The FCC’s upcoming incentive auction of broadcast television spectrum to the wireless industry emerged as a hot topic of discussion this week at the 2014 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas, where NAB President Gordon Smith cited the success of the recent AWS-3 auction in acknowledging that “many broadcasters have begun to look more seriously at the possibility of participating in the . . . incentive auction.” Appearing at the show on Wednesday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler spoke of his desire of better accommodating broadcaster participation in the auction, as he confirmed the circulation of a new set of rules that “will allow full power and Class A stations to select channel sharing partners both before and after the conclusion of auction.”
Opening the show on Monday with his State of the Industry speech, Smith predicted “we can have a very successful auction” if the FCC can “simplify its rules” and “stay out of the price-setting business and instead trust the market to determine the price of each 6 MHz channel.” Meanwhile, during his speech, Wheeler told attendees that the FCC is ready to provide broadcasters with the tools they need to prosper both before and after the incentive auction. In addition to implementing channel sharing rules that would apply to all stations “regardless of whether they participate in the auction,” Wheeler promised to pursue the goal of increasing foreign ownership of broadcast properties beyond the current 25% limit as a means of providing the industry with new sources of capital.