Wheeler: FCC Will Soon Release TV Station Repack Models

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says that the incentive auction task force will "soon" be releasing models for the order and scheduling for what it expected to be a regional model for repacking TV stations after the incentive auction.

That is according to his prepared testimony for a Sept. 15 FCC oversight hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee.

"These models reflect the input we’ve received from broadcasters, wireless companies, tower crews, equipment manufacturers, and other stakeholders," he says, adding: "Getting the transition right is as important as getting the auction itself right."

"We continue to prioritize planning for an efficient and effective transition with minimal disruption to the viewing public. With the continued engagement of industry stakeholders, that’s exactly what we’ll get," he said.

How many stations will need repacking depends on how much spectrum the FCC reclaims and forward auction bidders will pay for--currently the FCC is on stage II of the reverse auction having failed to attract enough money from forward auction bidders to cover 126 MHZ of spectrum (it has downsized to 114 MHZ) in stage 1.

Stage two began Sept. 13.

Wheeler points out to the committee that the auction was always planned for multiple stages, signaling that having to go to a second stage was the process "playing out as designed."

Others have suggested the FCC overestimated the wireless appetite for the spectrum and set the opening prices too high. Wheeler has said that was to get broadcasters into the auction, and it certainly did that.

Related: Wheeler Says FCC May Have to Prioritize Repack Reimbursements.

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.