The FCC media Bureau issued a public notice today reminding TV stations that they need to update their contact information to make sure they can receive information about the incentive auction and post-auction station moves.
Sending the communications will provide stations with information as early as possible concerning their channel assignments so they can begin planning for the channel changes. We will send the communications by overnight mail to all stations that have contact information on file with the Commission that identifies a street address. Due to the limitations of overnight delivery options available to the Commission, such communications will be sent by regular U.S. Mail to stations that have contact information on file with the Commission that identifies a post office box.
Stage 4 of the FCC’s reverse auction ended Friday afternoon with $10,054,676,822 as the new payout price that the government will need to clear 84 MHz of TV spectrum to resell to wireless operators.
The question now is whether wireless carriers will agree to that in stage 4 of the forward auction process, expected to kick off on Jan. 18.
The $10 billion total is far below the $86 billion that was being asked when the auction began back in June. The wireless bidders didn’t come anywhere near that so the target was lowered to $54.6 billion in stage 2, then to $40 billion in stage 3.
Stage 4 of the FCC’s forward auction effectively ended Wednesday afternoon with wireless operators bidding $17.7 billion for the 84 MHz of TV spectrum up for grabs. On Monday, Jan. 23, the auction will resume and once again use the following two-round bidding schedule: 10-noon ET and 2-4 p.m. ET.
When the FCC announced last week that bidding by wireless carriers in the forward auction was sufficient to meet its obligations to pay the broadcasters who sold stations in the reverse auction and cover repacking and administrative costs, it essentially closed the reverse auction. So, the winning broadcasters now know who they are and what they will be paid for their stations.
But under the FCC-imposed "quiet period" aimed at preventing collusion among broadcasters during the entire auction process, the winning broadcasters can't tell anybody.
What's more, adhering to its strict procedures, the FCC is not likely to announce the winners and how much they will be paid for their stations until March, according to auction watchers inside and outside the FCC.
The public notice with the winners will also include how many stations and which stations will have to migrate to new channels in the repacking of the TV band.
Why the delay?
Before that tell-all public notice goes out, a couple of things have to happen.
First, the FCC has to close the forward auction and it will not do that until demand for spectrum is exhausted in every market and no more bids are coming in. That will take several more days — at least.
After that, the FCC will conduct a third auction, in which winning wireless carriers may bid for specific frequencies. That could take four to six weeks — two to three for prepping carriers on how to bid and two or three weeks for the auction itself.
That means the tell-all public notice will not come out until late February or early March at the earliest.
Broadcasters will know more sooner than that. Within the next three weeks or so, the FCC will send "confidential" letters to all broadcasters telling them whether they have to move and, if so, what their new channel assignments are. The idea is to give broadcasters a head start on planning for their channel moves.
But, again, the broadcasters will be bound not to divulge that information before the public notice is issued.
A wild card is an effort by broadcasters to persuade the FCCto drop or relax its gag order prior to the public notice. If the FCC does, winners may be able to reveal themselves before the public notice comes out. - Harry A. Jessell
TVNewsCheck, January 25, 2017 6:03 AM EST
It seems to me, unlike in the previous channel re-assignments a decade ago to ATSC 1.0, broadcasters will be assigned their new channel by the FCC rather than having a list to choose from through a lottery system.
• Reassigned stations and band changing stations must air notifications alerting viewers prior to transitioning to their post-auction channels. • No stations in Canada will be assigned to transition before the third transition phase. • Under the plan, stations will be assigned to one of 10 transition phases, each with its own testing and completion deadline. The completion deadline will be the last day a station may operate on its pre-auction channel.
click headline above for link to article and links to 2 FCC documents
"Broadcasters are free to negotiate assignments or transfers of broadcast licenses or other transactions involving a transfer of control of a licensee that has been involved in the reverse auction," the agency says.
______________________________________________ Broadcasters are now reviewing so-called confidential letters from FCC telling them if they have to move to new channels in the post-auction repack of the TV band, Those that do have to relocate are being given new channel assignments and technical parameters for them.
• Add Sinclair Broadcast Group to the growing list of broadcasters reporting revenue from the sale of spectrum in the FCC’s incentive auction. It said today it will receive an estimated $313 million. In a statement, the company said the results of the auction “are not expected to produce any material change in operations or results for the company.
• Central Michigan University officials have announced they will sell their Flint public broadcasting station WCMZ-28 for $14 million as part of the Federal Communication Commission's spectrum auction.
The FCC said Friday afternoon that the forward auction has come to an end, with $19.6 billion raised, the second highest total proceeds of any commission spectrum license auction in its 20-plus year history, according to the FCC.
Of that total, broadcasters will receive about $10 billion, with $1.75 billion going to other broadcasters that incur costs in changing channels in the post-auction spectrum repack. More than $6 billion will go to the U.S. Treasury for deficit reduction.
While a number of broadcasters have reported their takes from the FCC’s incentive auction this week after the commission lifted its “quiet period,” E.W. Scripps Co. just announced it’s not one of them.
“We pursued several channel-share arrangements with ourselves and other broadcast partners that would have allowed us to continue to operate our stations and serve our local communities while supporting the government in its attempt to recapture some broadcaster spectrum,” said Brian Lawlor, Scripps SVP, broadcast.
However, none of the spectrum we or our partners offered was selected during the auction process because the prices available in the auction fell below the value we ascribed to it. Scripps will continue to serve each of our local communities using our full spectrum capacity as allocated by the FCC.”
WKBW-7 will remain on UHF, somewhere from channels 14-36. [Note: stations that did not participate in the FCC reverse auction can still be relocated to another channel but not to another frequency type (UHF ↔ VHF).]
WNED-17 will not comment publicly at this time--translation: it participated in the auction, if their bid was accepted it will result in one of the following: (1) move to a low VHF frequency (2) move to a high VHF frequency (3) surrender its license and piggyback with a remaining station All public broadcasting stations must remain broadcasting O-T-A by agreement with PBS.
WNYO-49 + WUTV 29 Sinclair Broadcast Group sold off spectrum for $313 million in markets where they own 2 stations. If Buffalo is affected, frequency, location and reception quality is 'to be determined'. O-T-A Programming on both stations would not be affected as they would piggyback onto one frequency keeping their separate virtual station i.d..
WBNF-CD-15 Hedge fund HME EQUITY FUND II, LLC was expected to participate in the auction; will cease broadcasting with-in 39 months if their bid was accepted.
The TCT Network has informed me that they have participate in the FCC reverse auction. They own 15 full power stations in the U.S. Planning details have not been finalized. Expect WNYB-26 to move to VHF, piggyback, or end terrestrial broadcasting.
WDWO-CD 18 Detroit was just sold (back) to TCT Network from hedge fund Locus Point for $2 million. TCT sold the low power station to Locus Point for $4 million in 2013 which means Locus Point lost $2 million on the deal; they lost in the reverse auction.
This should signal that WNYB-26 should remain on the air in Buffalo whether it remains on channel 26 or VHF.
The workshop will also be streamed live with open captioning over the Internet from the FCC’s web page at [Link: fcc.gov]. During the event, those watching the live video stream of the event may email event-related questions to IAtransition@fcc.gov. After the event, a recording of the workshop will be available for streaming.
The FCC’s long-running, multi-stage effort to auction spectrum currently used by broadcasters is finally over: Bidders today found out who won specific blocks of the precious airwaves. The FCC is expected to announce the results in April.
The process formally began a little more than a year ago, but has been debated and planned for about six years. The basic terms were settled earlier. Telco and other companies eager to boost their wireless broadband offerings agreed to pay $19.77 billion for 70 MHz of spectrum. TV stations agreed to relinquish some of the airwaves they use for a little more than $10 billion. “Today’s conclusion of the assignment phase formally brings all bidding activity in this multi-phase auction to a close,” says Gary Epstein, who chairs the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force. “The incentive auction has required unprecedented commitment from bidders as well as Commission staff, who from the moment that broadcasters made their initial commitments to the final bids processed this afternoon have worked each day to assist bidders and ensure a fair and successful auction,” he adds. “We are excited to share the results of the reverse and forward auctions and extensive information about the post-auction transition in the next few weeks.” Broadcasters were reluctant to give up spectrum, even though the vast majority of their viewers receive programming via cable or satellite. That delayed the auction, which was supposed to begin in mid-2015. The FCC arranged a so-called reverse auction to determine how much broadcasters would need to collect to relinquish some of the airwaves they use. Fox, Tribune Media and Gray Television are among the station groups that agreed to sell some of their spectrum. E.W. Scripps said it decided not to relinquish any because “prices available in the auction fell below the value we ascribed” to the spectrum. Most of the payment in excess of what broadcasters require will go to the U.S. Treasury, with part of the proceeds covering administrative costs. The costs will include work the FCC now must do to repack the spectrum — a multiyear process that will involve moving TV channels and other services to different frequencies that use the airwaves most efficiently. The National Association of Broadcasters says it’s “eager to work with the Commission to ensure a smooth repacking transition that protects consumer access to local news, weather, community service and lifeline emergency programming. We look forward to working on a bipartisan basis with policymakers on a seamless transition for our tens of millions of TV viewers and radio listeners.”
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