The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) petitioned the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday to overturn portions of the FCC’s landmark broadcast incentive auction order. The appeal challenges the methodology the agency will use to predict coverage areas of television stations that opt against surrendering their spectrum to commercial wireless carriers. The petition specifies calling targets the new “TVStudy” software that was adopted by the FCC in May and that NAB contends will cause “many broadcast licensees . . . [to] lose coverage area and population served during the auction’s repacking and reassignment process.” Denying that his group aims to delay the projected start of the incentive auction next year, NAB executive vice president Rick Kaplan confirmed in a blog post that NAB will seek expedited court review, as he emphasized, “our goal is to resolve our core challenges as quickly as possible, so the FCC can immediately return to its auction preparations.”

In the incentive auction order, the FCC maintained that its decision to use the TVStudy software does not represent a change in the methodologies used to implement TV coverage and interference criteria outlined by the FCC in OET Bulletin No. 69. While touting TV Study’s “capability to create and use a uniform nationwide grid” as “essential to the repacking process,” the incentive auction order contends that “updates to the input values used in applying the OET-69 methodology allow for a more accurate analysis of each station’s coverage area and population served as of the date of the enactment of the [2012] Spectrum Act.”

Claiming, however, that the incentive auction order alters the OET-69 methodology, NAB said it was seeking court review on grounds that the order violates the Spectrum Act and “is arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion under the Administrative Procedure Act.” As it accused the FCC of failing in its statutory obligation to preserve broadcast coverage areas to the fullest extent possible and  to fully compensate stations for their relocation costs, NAB further charged that usage of the TVStudy software could subject broadcasters to as much as $500 million in out-of-pocket repacking costs and “could result in significant loss of viewership of broadcast TV stations after the FCC repacks TV stations into a shrunken TV band.” Based on these and other arguments, the NAB asked the court to “hold unlawful, vacate, enjoin and set aside the Commission’s adoption of TVStudy in the Order and grant such additional relief as may be necessary.”

As the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition praised the NAB for acting “promptly after the release of the [incentive auction order] so that any legal issues can be resolved well before the mid-2015 scheduled start of the auction,” wireless association CTIA voiced hope that “the court addresses these issues quickly and that the NAB adheres to its commitment for an expedited process.” A spokesman for the FCC replied: “we are confident that the Report and Order fulfills the mandates established by Congress in this complex matter.”