Addressing the National Association of Broadcasters State Leadership Conference on Tuesday, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly offered his views on a variety of topics of importance to broadcasters as he acknowledged that, “once the content providers in town, broadcasters must now compete fiercely for listeners and viewers, and you are holding your own in this ultracompetitive environment.”

As he lamented that the FCC had “virtually ignored” statutory mandates in recent years to review and adjust its media ownership rules on a quadrennial basis and to repeal or modify media ownership regulations that are no longer needed as a result of competition, O’Rielly took up the call for FCC process reform, asserting: “the lack of transparency continues to generate unfairness and inefficiency as people attempt to engage on important questions of the day with asymmetrical information.” O’Rielly voiced particular concern with the FCC’s refusal to publicly release the text of major items to be considered by the agency in advance of Commission open meetings, the result being that “the public is left out of the loop, leading to an incomplete picture of what is in a pending notice or order.” Declaring, “commissioners are not allowed to discuss any of the substantive details during meetings with outside parties like you, and we can’t even correct inaccurate impressions you may have received along the way,” O’Rielly called for the public release of draft FCC orders in advance of open meetings, as he characterized the current FCC process as “extremely frustrating . . . for all involved.”

With respect to the incentive auction, O’Rielly told his audience that, while time is of the essence in starting the auction, “I believe getting the auction structured correctly to ensure success is more important than the timing.” Chief among the issues to be resolved, said O’Reilly, are (1) opening bid prices for the forward auction and dynamic reserve prices for the reverse auction, (2) limitation of impaired markets, (3) channel repacking, and (4) “working with broadcasters by providing realistic, clear and concise information about all of these issues.”