Post-Auction Repack Starts; Important Deadlines Set

Posted on April 27th, 2017 by

On April 11, 2017, the FCC released its long awaited closing notice, formally ending the reverse and forward auction of TV spectrum, and re-designating TV broadcasting to a new home between channels 2 and 36 will become clear. Only 175 TV stations received auction funds for turning in their spectrum, or agreement to move to the VHF band. Another 950 or so stations will have to change channels between now and July 20, 2013, a 39-month sprint that promises to present challenges. The remaining TV stations don’t have to take any action.

On the immediate horizon for TV auction winners is a May 11, 2017 deadline to submit a hard-copy Form 1875 to set up bank account information to receive auction funds. Those winners who must transition to VHF must also file a construction permit application no later than July 12, 2017 for their new VHF channel.

For repacked TV stations, May 15, 2017 is the deadline for requesting a waiver to use their spectrum for flexible (non-broadcast) uses, in exchange for any reimbursement of relocation costs. Then, June 12, 2017 is the deadline to ask the FCC for more time to file construction permit applications for their reassigned channels (only for stations unable to construct their allotted facilities). Finally, July 12, 2017 is the deadline for construction permit applications for reassigned channels, and for filing an initial estimate of relocation costs. These stations also have to file Form 1876 with the FCC in advance of receiving any relocation funds.

There will be other filing windows later this year for special situations, followed by a filing window for displaced LPTV stations.

The FCC has leaned forward by appointing regional coordinators for repacked stations, with emails offering assistance in broadcaster and counsel inboxes in the days following the closing notice. Help will be needed.

Beginning in October, reassigned stations will be required to file quarterly updates of their progress with the FCC (yes, another quarterly form, due by the 10th day after the end of a calendar quarter). So the first report will be due no later than October 10, 2017.

If you’re a little overwhelmed, we understand. There is no actual medical diagnosis for those feelings, though we are comfortable with “post-auction anxiety”. We’re not doctors (ok, not the medical type at least), but the easiest antidote is getting informed and taking action now to avoid any deadline issues.