The United States’ Federal Communications Commission had to postpone its major auction over low-frequency airwaves until 2016 because of ongoing legal issues surrounding it. This auction, which should have originally taken place in the middle of 2015, will be postponed due to the complexity of the matter as well as the court challenges currently pending.
Gary Epstein, the Incentive Auction Task Force chairman of the FCC, has made the postponement public in a written post.
“Earlier this week, the court issued a briefing schedule in which the final briefs are not due until late January 2015. Oral arguments will follow at a later date yet to be determined, with a decision not likely until mid-2015. “
Epstein wrote in his post.
Within the incentive auction, wireless carriers will be allowed to acquire airwaves tagged as “beach front property”, which is a very desirable location for both their strength and reach. The auction is seen as the FCC’s most complicated project to date and as such, several economic, political and engineering considerations need to be balanced before commencing. Moreover, there is something else that the FCC needs to address: broadcasters must be convinced to give up the aforementioned airwaves.
“We are confident we will prevail in court, but given the reality of that schedule, the complexity of designing and implementing the auction, and the need for all auction participants to have certainty well in advance of the auction, we now anticipate accepting applications for the auction in the fall of 2015 and starting the auction in early 2016. Despite this brief delay, we remain focused on the path to successfully implementing the incentive auction.”
In the meantime, T-Mobile will have time to push to place bidding restrictions on Verizon and AT&T while the FCC will also have more time to convince TV station owners to also participate in the auction. The National Association of Broadcasters has filed a petition to the U.S. Court of Appeals, asking that the District of Columbia Circuit begin reviewing components of the postponed auction.
While the final briefs have been pushed back to the end of January 2015, the National Association of Broadcasters denies that the lawsuit had anything to do with the delay in the auction.
“We look forward to a speedy resolution of our legal challenge and a successful auction that preserves access to free and local TV for every American,”
Dennis Wharton, spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters said.