TV Auction: What Now?

Posted on January 29th, 2016 by

The January 12, 2016 deadline for filing FCC Form 177 to become eligible to participate in the TV Incentive Auction has now passed. So what’s next for broadcasters? For those that chose not to qualify by the deadline, there is nothing to do until the auction is complete and the FCC makes decisions on repacking remaining TV stations into the smaller TV band that remains. Stations being repacked will have several action items; those that are not being repacked will continue business as usual.

For those stations that did qualify to participate in the auction, the FCC is reviewing Form 177’s and will be communicating with you in coming weeks. Though their guidance on this was somewhat cryptic, stations that filed an incomplete Form 177 will be so advised and given a deadline to fix the issue. In addition, stations with a complete Form 177 will be notified that they are either still needed in the auction and eligible to file an opening bid, or not needed in the auction and will therefore be subject to repacking.

On February 29, 2016, the FCC will launch a tutorial on bidding and the post-auction process. The tutorial will provide important details on the actual bidding process as well as important deadlines and action items.

By 6 p.m. Eastern Time on March 29 2016, stations that remain eligible and intend to participate in at least round one of the auction must make an initial commitment to their opening round bid option. The FCC will likely open a short “window” in the days prior to this deadline so that stations can make this initial commitment earlier than March 29th. The FCC controls this process by making the bidding software available through the auction portal. Until they do so, bidding will not be possible.

When are things like the clearing target and band plan going to be decided? That comes after the March 29th deadline, along with mock auctions. Absent glitches, live round bidding will likely begin around the end of April 2016.

Stations should routinely monitor the FCC’s Reverse Auction web page for all deadlines, plus the latest developments and announcements. In addition, stations that submitted a Form 177 should be watching the mail or overnight delivery service, as well as email In Boxes, for FCC communications.