FCC Posts Tutorial for TV Station Auction, Take Two

Broadcasters participating in the reverse portion of the FCC's spectrum auction are encouraged to check out the online tutorial the FCC has posted on its website.

Actually, the tutorial is available to everyone interested in trying to figure out what comes next in the FCC's attempt to auction broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband.

Stage two of the reverse auction—broadcasters bidding for who will take the smallest payout for their spectrum—begins Sept. 13, so broadcasters have less than two weeks to prepare.

The tutorial is specific to auctions held after the initial stage.

The FCC closed the first stage this week having failed to raise enough from wireless companies and other bidders in the forward auction—there were 62 eligible bidders including Comcast, AT&T and Dish—to cover the $88.4 billion it needed to pay broadcasters for the spectrum given up in the first stage of the reverse auction.

The FCC set prices high in that first stage and broadcasters kept them that way.

The tutorial points out that only bidders with one or more winning bids (designated "frozen provisionally winning") in stage one can participate in stage two.

Because the FCC is reducing the spectrum it is buying from broadcasters—from 126 MHz to 114 MHz—some of the stations with "frozen" winning bids could be unfrozen or designated "frozen, pending catch-up," which means it is no longer a provisional winner and may have a different bidding status in stage two.

The "frozen" winners could be back in the bidding if the FCC's clock price goes below their "frozen" winning bid from stage one.

Stations had various options for participation—give up the spectrum (and either get out of the business or share channels), move from a UHF to VHF assignment, or move from a high to low V, if applicable. Whatever option they had designated at the end of stage one carries over to the beginning of stage two.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.