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Clyburn Gets 'Dingellgram' With Auction Concerns

Former E&C Chairman Concerned FCC May Act Beyond Incentive Auction Mandate 6/05/2013 6:47 AM Eastern

Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) is continuing to press his concern over reallocation of broadcast spectrum following the incentive auctions, this time sending one of his famed "Dingellgrams" seeking some answers from acting FCC chairwoman Mignon Clyburn.

In a letter dated June 4, a copy of which was obtained by B&C, Dingell seeks answers to three questions about the FCC's authority to take certain auction-related actions, suggesting it may be exceeding its authority under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, legislation that included authorizing the voluntary incentive auction of broadcast spectrum. 

"I believe the Commission should adhere to congressional intent and its mandate under law when [designing and executing the auctions]," Dingell writes. "I am concerned that the Commission may be acting or planning to act beyond such mandate in implementing the Act accordingly."

The questions are: 1) "Does the commission believe it must complete international coordination with Mexico and Canada prior to reallocating and reassigning broadcast frequencies; 2) Does the commission believe [incentive auction legislation] grants it authority to revise its Office of Engineering and Technology Bulletin No. 69, a model used to predict broadcast interference; 3) Does the commission believe [the legislation] permits it to conduct a weighted reverse auction;" and 4) "What effect does the Commission estimate that a weighted reverse auction would have on the number of participants and the amount of spectrum recovered..."

In each case, he wants to know where the FCC is finding the authority supporting its decision.

Broadcasters argue that the FCC should complete international coordination before the auction, that the law did not grant authority to revise the Bulletin 69 model for calculating stations coverage areas and interference protections. And some broadcasters, notably the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition, have argued that the FCC should not weigh station values by population service or the value of its station business.

Rep. Dingell, chairman emeritus of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has given Clyburn until June 28 to respond.

September