TV Auction Developments; March Dates and Deadlines

Posted on February 29th, 2016 by

The FCC’s steady march toward the TV Incentive Auction continues unabated, despite a few looming legal proceedings in the D.C. Circuit. The FCC last week declined to stay the auction on behalf of certain Class A TV license holders, and now that question will be decided by the D.C. Circuit, with a briefing schedule that will not conclude until after the March 29, 2016 initial preferred bidding option deadline.

Bottom line – if the auction is stayed, that stay will be ordered by a court, not the FCC. TV Auction participants should pay close attention to the FCC’s Auction Page and trade publications for the latest. We’re not making any prognostications on the outcome here, but it bears watching.

Otherwise, TV Auction participants should load their calendars with the important dates for the next 30 days. Today, February 29, 2016, the FCC’s online tutorial regarding initial commitments will be available, as well as a user guide for the initial commitment module of the Auction System. That tutorial should also include some bidding and post-auction process information. There is no set time for the tutorial to become available, but we recommend that you periodically check the FCC’s Auctions Page Education Tab or the FCC website home page. It will remain available for viewing at any time.

Participants should also be looking for the FCC’s Second Confidential Status Letter, which will again confirm a station’s “complete” status and contain information on making an initial commitment in the auction. We expect those letters to be arriving sometime this week or early next. They should arrive just as the first letters did, via overnight courier. The FCC is very serious about these communications, and if the courier does not confirm delivery, the FCC will call you to find out what’s going on and confirm how it can get the letter to you.

Next up is a March 11, 2016 workshop on how to make an initial commitment in the reverse auction. Stations will be able to watch the workshop live as an “event” on the FCC’s Events Page from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET. Viewers watching live will be able to submit questions via email to This workshop will also feature a demonstration of the reverse auction bidding system for the clock phase of the auction (when multiple round bidding begins). This public notice has all the workshop details.

Finally, the FCC has released another public notice about the availability of the initial commitment module and the initial commitment filing window. Participants should review it carefully. Initial commitments must be submitted during a 32-hour window from 10:00 a.m. ET on March 28, 2016 until 6:00 p.m. ET on March 29, 2016. Applicants will be able to preview the submission process when the Auction System’s initial commitment module becomes available beginning at 10:00 a.m. ET on March 24, 2016 until 10:00 am. ET on March 28, 2016. The FCC recommends that users log in to the module during the preview period to verify that they are able to access the system. The module will be available on the FCC Auctions Portal page. Users must log in with their FRN and password.

After the March 29, 2016 deadline passes, participants should expect to receive a 3rd Confidential Status Letter regarding their status in the auction, mock auction information, and dates for the start of the clock phase of the auction.