NAB: Nobel Is No Guarantee of Successful Auction

Broadcasters warn that theoretical ideal may not be real-world solution
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In comments to the FCC, the National Association of
Broadcasters suggests that that while the FCC has hired some great thinkers,
including Nobel Prize-winning economists, to come up with an incentive auction
framework, the result so far has been "an economist's academic ideal of a
reverse auction untethered from engineering realities."

According to a summary of comments being filed on Tuesday, the
deadline for reply comments on the FCC's incentive auction framework, the NAB says their approach so far is "unnecessarily complex, appears to ignore
important engineering considerations and overlooks more basic and straightforward
solutions."

NAB offers what it suggests is a more effective approach of
identifying repacking scenarios for realistic amounts of spectrum, decide how
much it expects to raise from that, and maximize its resources by using them to
offer sufficient incentive to stations where it really needs them.

NAB suggests that will be in about 25 markets -- the top 25.
NAB says the FCC must not adopt its proposal to "intersperse"
broadcasters between wireless downlink and uplink operations.

One thing the FCC's proposal has done, a point FCC commissioner
Ajit Pai will make in testimony on Tuesday at an FCC oversight hearing in the
Senate, is to unite broadcasters and wireless companies in opposition to that
repacking plan.

NAB also taken aim at comments by others suggesting the FCC
should undertake wholesale repacking beyond simply that required to free up
spectrum for wireless. "Whereas Congress clearly intended this process to
be driven by market dynamics, some commenters appear to suggest that the commission
should use this repacking opportunity as a pretext for a straight,
government-directed reallocation," said NAB.

If the FCC fails to minimize repacking, says NAB,
"people of color, foreign language speakers and lower income
Americans," are likely to lose stations they rely on. Smaller, often
minority-targeted or niche programming stations, are already those most likely
to be giving up spectrum in the major markets where the FCC will need it.

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