NAB says that auction rules as they stand could hurt stations that opt not to participate in the auction.
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) on Monday filed a suit challenging the FCC's incentive auction, which NAB says could hurt TV stations that choose not to participate in the auction.
As dictated by the Spectrum Act, the auction is designed so that broadcast television licensees, including NAB's members, can voluntarily relinquish unused spectrum and get a cut of the purchase price when it is auctioned off to wireless providers.
But the NAB suit says that the FCC is not providing adequate protection for broadcasters who decline to participate in the auction and remain on the air. Specifically, NAB takes issue with a methodology known as TVStudy.
"Under this new methodology, many broadcast licensees, including NAB's members, will lose coverage area and population served during the auction's repacking and reassignment process, or be forced to participate in the auction (and relinquish broadcast spectrum rights)," the NAB lawsuit states.
In response, the FCC said it is "confident that the Report and Order fulfills the mandates established by Congress on this complex matter."
According to 2013 documentation about the spectrum auction, the FCC said that its TVStudy software "operates on modern computer systems, and it runs much faster, provides greater accuracy in modeling and analysis, and is easier to use and more versatile than the existing software."
In a blog post, NAB's Rick Kaplan, executive vice president of Strategic Planning, said NAB does not want to delay the spectrum auction, which is currently set for sometime in 2015.
"Consistent with that approach, we have filed our petition at the outset of the 60-day filing window and we will be seeking expedited review," Kaplan wrote. "Our aim is to resolve our core challenges as quickly as possible, so the FCC can immediately return to its auction preparations. We believe the court can help us swiftly address our discrete issues."
Though the FCC issued its spectrum auction rulemaking in May, it was only just published in the Federal Register, which is required before any entity can file a legal challenge.
Not surprisingly, wireless industry trade association CTIA has a different take. In a statement released Monday, CTIA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Scott Bergmann, said the FCC's order "strikes the right balance to ensure that consumers emerge as winners."
"As the FCC Commissioners, members of Congress and independent third party analysts continue to emphasize, the wireless industry needs more spectrum as soon as possible to be able to meet mobile broadband demand," he said.
Stephanie began as a PCMag reporter in May 2012. She moved to New York City from Frederick, Md., where she worked for four years as a multimedia reporter at the second-largest daily newspaper in Maryland.