FCC Regulations to Cause a “Disorganized Scramble Across the Country”

The struggle between government and private enterprise continues.

To keep up with consumers’ increasing demand for mobile broadband data, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has organized an auction for TV broadcasters to voluntarily relinquish some of their “white space channels” and repurpose them for mobile broadband use. Broadcasters who participate in the auction will “bid to receive some of the proceeds from auctioning that spectrum to wireless providers” and will have three months to make the transition.

Although participating in the auction is completely voluntary, evicting the specified channels is not. Broadcasters who choose not to participate in the auction have a 39-month timeframe after the auction ends to empty their current channels move to new ones. According to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), this timeframe is “not conducive to an organized transition,” and “will lead to an uncoordinated, disorganized scramble across the country.”

The primary problem is that there only 16 crews that can perform this transition, and this rule requires that they service the entire broadcasting industry over a 3.25 year period. Because of this, the NAB has made the hard sell to the FCC, asking them to reconsider the deadline. The FCC’s response remains to be seen.

Because the FCC is appointed and supervised by the president, this intrusion of private enterprise is yet another issue for voters to consider when they go to the polls this election season.