FCC Seeks Comment on Proposed Incentive Auction Station Repack Plan

by Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
Contact

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

On September 30, 2016, the FCC issued a 51-page Public Notice describing the FCC’s proposed plan to repack broadcast television stations over a 39-month transition period subsequent to the completion of the incentive auction. Through the “repacking” process, the FCC proposes to move numerous TV stations to other locations of the television broadcast spectrum so that television stations remaining on the air post-auction will occupy a smaller portion of the UHF band. The reclaimed spectrum will then be “reorganized” to accommodate mobile broadband and unlicensed use. However, in order to accomplish this laudable goal, the FCC must reassign television broadcast stations to new, post-auction channel assignments in an efficient and orderly manner tailored to stations’ individual circumstances. This is not an easy task, but the FCC’s proposal for a phased transition does provide some order in what will certainly be chaos during the repacking period.

Transition Phases

The FCC proposes to assign broadcast stations to one of 10 “transition phases” with sequential testing periods and deadlines in order to “smooth the way for station coordination, promote efficient allocation of limited resources, limit the impact of the transition on consumers, and facilitate FCC monitoring to determine whether schedule adjustments are necessary during the course of the transition process.” Once the forward auction concludes, the FCC will issue a public notice that announces each channel assignment, technical parameters, assigned transition phase, phase completion date, and testing period for each assigned station. The transition phase each station is assigned will be based on an in-depth methodology that uses optimization techniques described in the appendix to the Public Notice. This methodology is intended to minimize interference issues. The timeline for completing each phase will be based on a range of estimates for each phase, which the FCC claims “are conservative and reasonable.”

Temporary Interference

The FCC will permit temporary interference above the normally allowable limits, which the FCC believes will produce substantial benefits without causing undue disruption during the transition period. The FCC states that the increased interference is a necessary evil of stations moving to their post-auction channels, and will relieve stations of the burden of first coordinating with a large number of other stations when testing or operating on their post-auction channels. Once the post-auction period is completed, interference will be limited to the level of interference currently permitted under the FCC’s rules.

Temporary Channel Assignments

The FCC tentatively concluded that the benefits of using temporary channels are not great enough to warrant their use in light of the potential burdens such as requiring a station to move twice, which would in turn require additional equipment and resources, and possibly confuse viewers. However, the FCC seeks comments on its conclusion, and offers further proposals should the use of temporary channels be adopted. For example, the FCC proposes that stations using a temporary channel assignment should continue to have mandatory must-carry rights. Additionally, the FCC proposes that any stations assigned to temporary channels would be subject to interference protection. Lastly, the FCC proposes that any costs incurred by stations as a result of their assignment to a temporary channel would be eligible for reimbursement, as would the costs of cable operators complying with must-carry requirements.

Expanded Facilities & Alternate Channel Requests

The FCC recognizes that some stations may seek to construct expanded facilities or move to an alternate channel that differs from what the station is assigned in a public notice to be released after the close of the forward auction. The FCC also recognizes that some stations may seek to continue operation on their pre-auction channel after their phase-completion date. The FCC states that it will evaluate these requests based on the impact that it would have on the phase transition schedule. If new or existing dependencies are likely to occur as a result of the request, the FCC is likely to deny it. However, the FCC will likely grant requests that are compliant with the rules or have little or no impact on the phase assignments and transition schedules. Additionally, if a requesting station has the approval of all of the other stations that would be affected by the request, then the FCC is likely to look favorably on granting it.

Prohibited Auction Communications

As the FCC has done at each stage of the incentive auction proceeding, it reminds broadcasters and forward auction participants that any communications relating to bids or bidding strategies of any party covered by the rules is expressly prohibited. The FCC spends four paragraphs describing prohibited communications associated with the incentive auction. Therefore, we remind any party participating in the incentive auction to remain mindful of the FCC’s rules when communications relate to the auction.

_________________

While it may be a number of months before the incentive auction closes and the repacking scheme is implemented, it is encouraging that the FCC is seeking comment on the specifics of the repacking process. Currently comments are due October 31 and reply comments are due November 15, 2016. Hopefully a reasoned rule making process will lead to a fair, efficient, and coordinated transition.

 

Written by:

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
Contact
more
less

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.