On Tour: The FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force

Posted on March 3rd, 2015 by

Despite pending litigation that could derail things, the FCC has targeted early-2016 to begin the voluntary incentive auction that will pay certain full power and Class A television broadcasters to relinquish spectrum so it can be repurposed for mobile broadband use. The FCC plans to open a filing window this fall for eligible broadcast stations to indicate their willingness to participate in the auction. With at least 60 days remaining in that filing window, the FCC will provide opening bid prices to broadcasters, who will then decide whether to participate or not. And sometime this summer, full power and Class A television broadcasters will have to file a certification of their licensed operating parameters.

The FCC has now begun visiting targeted television markets to give a power point presentation and if requested, meet individually with broadcast station owners to discuss any questions and provide current estimates of the opening bid amounts for the station. We’ve seen the traveling show and sat in a confidential meeting, and can report that the presentations are straightforward and seek to provide information. The FCC staff members do respond to questions (or promise to get an answer if they don’t know it). No arm twisting occurs and no one bites. Among the staff members “on tour” are Gary Epstein, Chair of the Incentive Auction Task Force and an attorney. He is also the main author of the FCC’s voluminous Incentive Auction Report & Order.

During the last month, the FCC has announced some of their March 2015 planned visits. New York, Michigan and North Carolina visits are in this public notice. Visits to California can be found here.

Information is power. Representatives of eligible stations should attend one of the announced sessions. Information on how to request a confidential meeting can be found in the notices.