FCC Releases Updated Auction Timeline

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has announced an updated timeline for broadcast incentive auctions.

The auction remains targeted for mid-2015, but the timeline provides some more detail on when various steps in the process will occur, though with the caveat that it is an estimate and commits the FCC to none of the dates offered up.

It looks like third-quarter 2014 will be busy, with the FCC planning to open a host of proceedings on everything from mitigating the impact of the transition on LPTVs to reviewing designated entity rules, to soliciting input on final auction procedures.

Wheeler blogged about the timeline Wednesday even as the FCC begins a series of webinars to provide more information to broadcasters about the auction.

Wheeler said much more info, including potential pricing, will be coming soon.

"[T]his summer, we will distribute informational material to help inform broadcaster decision-making," he said. "This material will provide an estimate of the amount of money broadcasters could receive for voluntarily relinquishing some or all of their spectrum rights in the auction. It will also contain additional information about why broadcasters should consider participating in the reverse auction, and the options that the auction will present to them. Following release of this material, senior FCC staff will meet with broadcasters across the country on a voluntary and confidential basis to answer questions and provide additional details."

Preston Padden, executive director of the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition, seemed to like what he saw.

"Thank you, Thank you, Thank you," he said in an e-mail to B&C/Multi. "The Chairman and the auction staff are being incredibly responsive to the information needs of broadcasters."

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.