TV Spectrum Auction Update

Posted on March 31st, 2014 by

On the TV spectrum auction front, here’s what we know (or have heard) in the past month.  FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s promise for a Spring 2014 Report & Order in the 14-month old Incentive Auction rulemaking proceeding is closer to reality, with a vote likely slated for the Commission’s May or June meeting.  However, that anticipated order may only address some of the issues, with additional orders filling in other specifics at a later date.  That’s a scenario we don’t like, since it may create yet more uncertainty and leave important questions about repacking up in the air.  But if accurate, it would confirm our belief that the FCC is still trying to figure out some of the more weighty questions (like valuation, interference, repacking and reimbursement).

Various rumors have floated a push back of the actual auction to 2016, contrary to Chairman Wheeler’s early blogging that placed the auction in 2015.  That rumor may have surfaced from a draft of the Spring 2014 Report & Order that may be circulating at the FCC.  In a sign of what we see as a continuing (growing?) concern over broadcaster participation in the auction (which is the linchpin to its success), Chairman Wheeler has indicated that he wants to meet one-on-one with broadcasters to help them understand the value of their spectrum so that educated decisions can be made about auction participation. Meanwhile, the FCC did extend the deadline for comments in its most recently announced call for more information related to predicting potential interference between television and wireless services.