Last Friday, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) filed separate, but related documents with the FCC seeking changes to or clarification of various portions of the agency’s Incentive Auction procedures public notice.  In the first of two petitions, the NAB asked the FCC to reconsider (1) its decision to repack some broadcast television stations in the “duplex gap,” and (2) its standard for market variability.  Meanwhile, in a second petition, the NAB asked the agency to clarify that “all broadcasters will receive equal treatment in repacking, regardless of whether and how they participate in the auction,” given that portions of the auction procedures notice “could be read to suggest that the Commission is planning to relocate in the 600 MHz band only those television stations that do not participate in the reverse auction.” 
 
Issued on August 6, the procedural notice forms an important stepping stone to the scheduled start of the incentive auction on March 29 and the corresponding submission of “reverse” auction applications by broadcasters later this year.  Urging the FCC to “protect the duplex gap from any impairment and preserve it for use for wireless microphones,” the NAB argued that the FCC’s decision in the procedural notice to repack some broadcasters in the duplex gap “will eliminate the use of the duplex gap for wireless microphones in markets where the duplex gap is impaired,” thus failing “to address the Commission’s own argument for preserving the duplex gap for wireless microphones.”  Citing “recent progress the Commission has made in international coordination with Canada and Mexico,” the NAB also recommended that the FCC reconsider its standard for market variability, as the standard outlined in the procedural notice “allows far too much variability, given the way foreign impairments will be treated at certain clearing targets.”  The NAB further stressed that resolution of both of these issues should not impact the incentive auction schedule “as both these issues can be addressed through software settings and do not require reevaluation of the Commission’s auction design.” 
 
Meanwhile, in requesting clarification that all broadcasters will be treated equally in the repacking process, the NAB stressed that, “notwithstanding the protections the Commission asserts it will extend to stations placed in the [600 MHz] wireless band . . . no broadcaster would voluntarily choose to be relocated outside of the broadcast band.”  As the NAB reminded the FCC of Congress’s intention “that the auction remains voluntary,” NAB vice president Patrick McFadden voiced hopes in a blog post “that the confusion emerging from the procedures PN is just that and that broadcasters do not now have to factor in their participation decision the potential penalty of being shipped to the wireless band.”