The FCC held a meeting of broadcasters and industry consultants on March 31 to lay out its proposals for the TV spectrum incentive auction and repack. These proposals will help to form the order on the auction and repack expected to be approved at an open meeting of the FCC in May or June. Another […]
The FCC held a meeting of broadcasters and industry consultants on March 31 to lay out its proposals for the TV spectrum incentive auction and repack.
These proposals will help to form the order on the auction and repack expected to be approved at an open meeting of the FCC in May or June. Another meeting of parties interested in the proposals will be held next week at commission headquarters.
Jay Adrick, an independent consultant and former vice president of Harris Broadcast (now GatesAir), attended the March meeting and shared his notes with TVNewsCheck.
The salient points from those notes:
- Some progress is being made in negotiations with Canada on spectrum issues; negotiations with Mexico are stalled because of a change in Mexico’s spectrum regulatory agency as well as the formation of a new constitution and government.
- The new band plan will be from ch. 51 down.
- A guard band between TV spectrum and 600 MHz wireless spectrum will be as little as 3 MHz.
- The duplex gap in the wireless spectrum will range between 6 MHz and 11 MHz.
- Guard bands and duplex gap spectrum will be used for unlicensed devices.
- The band plan will be nationwide, but there may be some variance by market as needed.
- The FCC will use its TV Study software under OET 69 to determine channel allocations.
- The FCC will maintain current population served when planning replacement allocations.
- “Flag results,” areas identified by the TV Study software within a coverage area that go unserved due to terrain shielding, will be treated as part of a station’s coverage area.
- Fill-in translators — those used to cover flag areas — will not be protected, meaning on-channel repeaters will be necessary for flag areas.
- Upon completing recovery of spectrum in target markets, the FCC will issue a Notice of Completion.
- Construction permits granted but not built out before the April 2013 freeze will be protected and factored into the new channel assignment and band plan.
- The reverse auction will start with the highest dollar amounts being offered first and will continue till the agency gets sufficient spectrum.
- Each round of the reverse auction will be based on a model that makes certain remaining stations will fit into remaining spectrum.
- An auction deal isn’t complete unless a wireless bidder is willing to pay more than the reverse auction price so that both the station and U.S. Treasury can be compensated.
- Upon the FCC issuing a Notice of Completion of the auction, the agency will issue a channel change assignment table.
- Issuance of the channel change assignment table is the trigger for the start of the 39-month clock to complete the channel change.
- Each station affected by the repack will have three months to submit an application for a change of facilities construction permit to the FCC as well as a detailed estimate of the construction costs to complete the change.
- Upon review of the cost estimate by an independent third party and FCC issuance of the construction permit, the station will receive payment for 80% of the estimated costs.
- Stations will have 36 months to complete construction. (It was unclear during the meeting whether the 36 months begins following the maximum three months needed to submit a CP application and have the agency issue the construction permit or at the close of the auction.)
- Stations must submit an invoice for the balance of the reimbursement upon construction completion or before the 36 months has expired.
- Stations not completing construction within the 36 months can submit an updated estimate of the remaining cost to complete construction, and that amount will be paid.
- Any stations that have not completed their construction by the end of 39 months must go dark until they are ready to move to their channel assignments.
- Any station that goes dark for more than 12 months will lose its broadcast license.
- The FCC will lift the existing freeze on facilities after the new channels are announced.
- TV translators will be allowed to operate on their existing channel assignment until the new wireless owner of the spectrum is ready to activate use of the spectrum.
- There will not be a regional or market-by-market transition to new channels, but there may be rolling deadlines.
- Other FCC proceedings will follow to address wireless mic spectrum allocations and rules as well as unlicensed devices.