The FCC continues to target mid-2015 for conducting the incentive auction, according to an Estimated Timeline of Key Events released today.  To realize that goal, the FCC plans to release in the fast-approaching third quarter of 2014 the “Auction Comment Public Notice,” which, as detailed in a previous post, will seek comment on:

  • The methodology for determining starting prices in the reverse and forward auctions;
  • The “adjustment factors,” such as a station’s potential for interference, that affect the value of a station in clearing spectrum;
  • The specific benchmarks that the FCC will use for determining the final stage rule;
  • How much market variation to accommodate;
  • How prices will change from round to round; and
  • Details about the mechanics of the auction.

Also in the upcoming quarter, the Commission plans to adopt methodology for preventing “inter-service interference” between television and wireless broadband operations.   In addition, the Commission has slotted numerous auction and repacking-related proceedings for the third quarter of 2014 that will address:

  • The future of LPTV and TV translator stations;
  • Revision of the Part 15 rules to allow use of TV White Space devices in the repacked television spectrum, in the 600 MHz Band guard bands, and on Channel 37;
  • The long-term needs of wireless microphone users; and
  • Review of the Designated Entity rules.

The FCC plans to release orders in all of these proceedings by the first half of 2015.

In the first quarter of 2015, and with 90 days advance notice to broadcasters, the Media Bureau will announce its deadline for completion and license of “authorized construction of new full power station facilities, channel substitutions for licensed full power stations, modifications to existing full power and Class A facilities granted before the April 2013 freeze, and Class A digital conversion facilities.”  Only facilities licensed before that pre-auction licensing deadline will be entitled to repacking protection.  Then, in the first half of 2015, the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology will publish a baseline list of broadcast facilities eligible for preservation in the repacking process along with their coverage areas and population served.  Also during this timeframe, the Media Bureau will issue a final catalog of repacking costs eligible for reimbursement.

Following “bidder education tutorials and seminars,” the FCC will then conduct the incentive auction in mid-2015.

Post-Auction Timeline

Though the FCC is not committing to specific dates for post-auction activities, the Estimated Timeline did provide some detail on relative timeframes:

  • At auction completion, the FCC will announce final television channel assignments in the Channel Reassignment Public Notice.  Within three months of this PN, broadcasters and MVPDs must provide an estimate of relocation costs.  The Media Bureau will review these estimates and issue initial allocations from the TV Broadcast Reimbursement Fund.  Also within three months of the PN, broadcasters must file construction permit applications to operate on their new channels.  The Media Bureau will establish construction deadlines and also announce a limited window for operating LPTV and TV translators to submit displacement applications.  Within 39 months of the PN, broadcasters must complete their transition to their new channel or go dark on their pre-auction channels.
  • “As soon as practicable after conclusion of the auction,” the FCC will begin disbursing proceeds to broadcasters relinquishing some or all of their spectrum.  These stations have three months to terminate operations after receiving payment (stations which will channel share will have three months to terminate operations on their existing channels).

We will continue to provide coverage of ongoing incentive auction issues on our Twitter feed (@WileyonMedia) and on this blog.  As always, please contact us with any questions.

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