Bloomberg News

Rules for TV-Airwaves Auction Could Be Proposed by Fall

April 16, 2012

The U.S. government may propose rules by the fall for how it will conduct auctions of airwaves voluntarily surrendered by television stations, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said.

“We’re focused on implementing incentive auctions in a way that maximizes the broad opportunity for investment, innovation and economic growth,” Genachowski said in a speech today to the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, according to a transcript distributed by the agency.

President Barack Obama’s administration has proposed, and Congress has approved, U.S.-run auctions of unused television airwaves. The auctions are intended to free frequencies to meet rising demand from mobile Internet providers led by Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. (T:US) TV station owners may sell all or part of their airwaves and won’t be required to take part in the auctions.

“This is a unique opportunity that presents some very interesting - and potentially compelling - business options that did not exist before,” Genachowski said. TV stations can stay on the air and generate cash from participating, he said.

Earlier, Gordon Smith, president of the Washington-based broadcasters’ association, said providers of wireless Internet service “are asking the government for more of our spectrum.”

Broadcasters need to use airwaves “to be on tablets, laptops and game consoles and on mobile devices not yet developed,” Smith said. Broadcasters should work to push TV shows to mobile devices, he said.

The broadcasters’ group’s members include CBS Corp. (CBS:US), Comcast Corp. (CMCSA:US)’s NBC, the Walt Disney Co. (DIS:US)’s ABC and News Corp. (NWSA:US)’s Fox.

CTIA-The Wireless Association, a Washington-based trade group that represents mobile companies, has called for more airwaves for smartphones such as Apple Inc. (AAPL:US)’s iPhone.

“I don’t know any consumer who’s clamoring for” mobile TV and demand is strong for new wireless devices, Jot Carpenter, CTIA vice president of government affairs, said in an e-mailed statement. “Mr. Smith may not like it, but that’s the market speaking.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Todd Shields in Washington at;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at

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