The FCC has created a public online dashboard that will allow said public to follow the progress of the spectrum auction, which begins May 31.
That is where TV stations are volunteering to give up spectrum or move to a new channel in exchange for a multi-million (or multi-hundred million) dollar payday.
That dashboard was unveiled as part of an FCC public workshop Tuesday on the bidding process.
The dashboard will have a lot of info about the progress of the reverse auction. It is part of an Auction Public Reporting System (APRS) launching May 27 and will also include auction announcements—say on adding rounds or shortening the duration between them or the need for a new stage.
The dashboard will include the total auction proceeds by round and the progress of the auction toward meeting its 126 MHz clearing target.
The FCC will conduct a two-day mock auction for eligible bidders beginning May 25 at 10 a.m.
Bidders in the auction already know where they stand in terms of their station status at the launch of the auction.
For example, if the FCC has nowhere else to repack it, the station owner already knows they are a provisional winner, frozen at their opening bid price, but only if the auction closes at the initial clearing target of 126 MHz, which is why it is a provisional win. They also know whether a station is frozen 'infeasible," meaning there is currently no place to move them, but a spot could open up.
Bidders frozen and provisional winners don't have to monitor the initial stage auction, but could have to rebid if the FCC can't clear 126 MHz and has to move to stage 2. The 'infeasibles' (which are VHF only) will need to keep checking on the bidding progress since their status could change mid-auction if, say a station that initially wanted to move opts to get out entirely and a channel opens up.
And if their station has an "exited" designation, the FCC has signaled it doesn't need it.
An FCC spokesperson confirmed that "reverse auction qualified bidders who have logged onto the bidding system during the preview window will know the status of all of their stations in the auction, including any stations who are frozen as provisional winners."
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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.