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Sources: FCC might postpone incentive auction item

Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler might be forced to pull the incentive auction procedures item from Thursday’s agenda because he doesn’t have the requisite three votes.

The item came under attack from House commerce leaders and broadcasters when the FCC released last-minute data on Friday and extended the sunshine period for presentations on the item up until 7 p.m. before the meeting.

At issue is whether some broadcast TV stations should be placed in the so-called duplex gap, the space between the uplink and downlink portions of the mobile wireless spectrum. If a station is repacked there, it would displace spectrum for wireless mics and unlicensed uses, as well as cause interference to the adjacent cell frequencies. The other two Democratic commissioners have favored keeping the duplex gap for more unlicensed applications.

While Wheeler is determined to keep the broadcast incentive auction procedures on schedule, he may have to postpone the item a month.

“It’s more likely than not it gets pulled; it will be difficult not to – there aren’t three votes,” an FCC source said.

An FCC official said earlier in the week that Wheeler was unlikely to withdraw the item.