The U.S. Federal Communications Commission expects a major auction of low-frequency airwaves to be pushed back to early 2016 from mid-2015, an FCC official said in a blog post on Friday.
The FCC has been working on rules for the so-called incentive auction in which wireless carriers would get the first opportunity since 2008 to purchase airwaves considered the “beach front property” of radio spectrum for their reach and strength.
The auction is regarded as the FCC’s most complex undertaking to date, balancing numerous economic, engineering and political considerations, including the need to woo broadcasters to give up the airwaves in the first place.
The National Association of Broadcasters has petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review elements of the FCC’s planned auction process, arguing it could hurt TV stations.
The court has now pushed back the deadline on final briefs in the case until late January 2015.
“We are confident we will prevail in court, but given the reality of that schedule, the complexity of designing and implementing the auction, and the need for all auction participants to have certainty well in advance of the auction, we now anticipate accepting applications for the auction in the fall of 2015 and starting the auction in early 2016,” wrote Gary Epstein, who chairs the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force.
The FCC plans to go on a road show this fall to convince TV station owners to participate in the auction, for example volunteering to relinquish airwaves, going off air or sharing frequencies with another station.
The NAB has said its court challenge of some FCC auction rules was not intended to delay the auction.
The anticipated start of the incentive auction was pushed back once before, to mid-2015 from 2014, because of its complexity.
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