Wheeler: Repack Info To Be Released ‘Soon’

The FCC chairman tells a Senate oversight hearing that the commission "will soon release for discussion and comment transition models to calculate the order and schedule of station relocation efforts” and they will reflect input from broadcasters, wireless companies, tower crews, equipment manufacturers and others.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told a Senate committee this morning that the commission’s Incentive Auction Task Force “will soon release for discussion and comment transition models to calculate the order and schedule of station relocation efforts” following the incentive auction.

In remarks prepared for the Senate Commerce Committee’s FCC oversight hearing, Wheeler recapped progress of the on-going spectrum auction to transfer TV band spectrum to wireless carriers.

“When I last visited this committee I noted that the auction’s design allows for multiple stages of bidding in order to match the supply of spectrum from broadcasters with the demand expressed by wireless bidders.

“That process is playing out as designed. In the first stage of the auction we made available an initial clearing target of 126 MHz, but the cost to clear that amount of broadcast spectrum exceeded the bid prices of the wireless bidders.

“We therefore began the second stage on September 13 with a reverse auction to determine the cost to clear a reduced amount — 114 MHz — of spectrum. A second stage forward auction will follow the conclusion of the reverse.”

Wheeler then said that regarding the post-auction transition and repacking of TV stations, the Incentive Auction Task Force “will soon release for discussion and comment transition models to calculate the order and schedule of station relocation efforts. These models reflect the input we’ve received from broadcasters, wireless companies, tower crews, equipment manufacturers and other stakeholders.

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“Getting the transition right is as important as getting the auction itself right. We continue to prioritize planning for an efficient and effective transition with minimal disruption to the viewing public. With the continued engagement of industry stakeholders, that’s exactly what we’ll get.”

In addition to the auction, Wheeler also discussed the commission’s activity regarding set-top boxes, 5G wireless technology, business data services, internet privacy, robocalls, Lifeline modernization and other issues.

He explained his release last week of proposed set-top box rules that would let consumers stop renting STBs from pay TV providers. Instead, the companies would be required “to provide apps — free of charge — that consumers can download to a variety of devices to access all the programming they pay for.

“Among other consumer benefits, these rules would enable integrated search across different sources of content and open the door for innovation, spurring new apps and devices, giving consumer more choice and control. Expanded access to programming created by independent and diverse voices on the same platform as your pay TV provider’s would mean consumers will more easily find content that is buried behind guides or not available from a pay TV provider,” Wheeler added.

“To ensure that all copyright and licensing agreements will remain intact and in response to feedback we received, the delivery of programming will continue to be overseen by pay-TV providers from end-to-end.  The proposed rules also maintain important consumer protections regarding emergency alerting, accessibility and privacy,” he concluded.


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