Co-Chair of Wiley Rein LLP Kathleen Kirby wrote a letter on Monday, Jan. 30, to the Federal Communications Commission addressing their responsibility to release broadcasters from the prohibition against communication about the Spectrum Auction and the consequences of keeping the prohibition in place.
“The Commission can provide much-needed relief to broadcasters simply by clarifying that nothing a broadcaster says about the reverse auction at this point would violate the prohibition on certain auction-related communications.,” Kirby wrote.
She explained that when the prohibition was set into place, the FCC explained it was set in place to stop broadcasters from affecting the bids and bidding strategies, but now that the Reverse Auction has finished, Kirby believes the prohibition’s effectiveness has ended.
“Finally, the Commission should be mindful of the detrimental effect its unnecessarily stringent interpretation of its rules is having on the broadcast industry,” she wrote. “When adopting the prohibited communications rules, the FCC emphasized that “[t]he prohibition applies during a limited period of time, which we expect will be only a matter of months.”6 Broadcasters, however, have been hamstrung in their ability to discuss transactions and other business requiring disclosure of auction results for more than a year, and it may yet be a “matter of months” before the Incentive Auction officially comes to an end. We respectfully submit that there is simply no justification to handcuff the broadcast industry any longer.”