WASHINGTON, May 16, 2013 – On Thursday, Democratic Representatives Henry Waxman, Anna Eshoo, and Doris Matsui of California, plus Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Diana DeGette of Colorado, and Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania issued a letter to outgoing Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, responding to Republican members of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Republicans on the committee had previously expressed concerns that the incentive auctions provided for in the spectrum provisions of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 would promote anti-competitive practices. In the letter, Democrats counter that Republicans have neglected key parts of the legislation.
The authors of the letter note that the tax relief act added a new paragraph 17 to section 309(j) of the Communications Act. This paragraph contained two provisions that can be used to prevent any single bidder from acquiring an excessive number of licenses through these incentive auctions.
Subparagraph 17(A) allows all companies that meet certain requirements to bid in these auctions, although they can still be prohibited from bidding on every single block of licenses. Additionally, subparagraph 17(B) maintains the FCC’s ability to limit spectrum aggregation to promote competition.
In neglecting these paragraphs, the Democrats assert, the Republicans are mischaracterizing the legislative history of the provisions that, they contend, properly prevent single bidder from acquiring a large number of license blocks.
Additionally, the Democrats urged the FCC to have confidence in the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice.
“The Department’s involvement in wireless mergers and its competitive concerns regarding the undue concentration of spectrum have been consistent across both Republican and Democratic administrations,” the representatives said.