Incentive Auction Delayed Until Early 2016

Posted on October 30th, 2014 by

The TV Incentive Auction now won’t be happening until early 2016. That’s according to an FCC hosted blog that assessed the need for a delay based upon the pending legal challenges to the FCC’s Incentive Auction Report & Order.

We’re not surprised. The FCC’s Incentive Auction has been a moving target thus far. An initial target of 2014 proved hopeful, as the FCC could not even issue its own order in enough time. Then, the order itself made a vague reference, in a footnote, to a mid-2015 estimate for the auction. Outside of official pleadings, Chairman Wheeler threw around a few projections of his own. The latest unofficial “early 2016” target is premised upon a pretty fast decision by the DC Circuit in what can only be described as an extraordinarily complex case. Our opinion? Early 2016 might still be too optimistic.

In other Incentive Auction news, the FCC extended the timeframe for comments on the draft reimbursement form that will be used by broadcasters that decide not to participate in the auction, or whose bids are not accepted. You now have until November 26, 2014 to file comments.

And in a long-promised kick off to the FCC’s pitch to incentivize broadcasters to participate in the auction, the FCC’s outside investment firm produced a report that – with many caveats and an assumption that the auction will be successful – provided broadcasters with estimates of what their spectrum might be worth in the auction. The FCC will reportedly next seek to directly engage with broadcasters to continue the conversation. What an odd situation. The agency that regulates you wants to visit to convince you to get out of the business you’re in. Awkward.