January 27, 2017

Post-Incentive Auction Broadcast Transition Procedures

The Media Bureau, addresses the transition of full power and Class A television stations to post-auction channel assignments in the reorganized television bands following the conclusion of the broadcast television spectrum incentive auction. In order to provide guidance to broadcasters assigned to new channels, we summarize and clarify the process established in the Incentive Auction R&O and further developed in subsequent decisions.

This Public Notice provides detailed information, instructions, and projected deadlines for filing applications related to the post-incentive auction broadcast transition. It includes details about the requirement that all stations assigned a new channel as a result of the incentive auction submit an application for construction permit for their post-auction channel, as well as the procedures by which winning reverse auction bidders must relinquish their spectrum usage rights. It also sets forth the process by which eligible television stations can seek reimbursement of certain costs incurred in relocating to new channels and Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs) for certain costs incurred in order to continue to carry the signals of relocating television stations. Additionally, this Public Notice includes an Appendix with instructions for filing in the Commission’s Licensing and Management System (LMS) the applications required to effectuate this transition.

April 24, 2017

FCC Reinstates Pre-August 2016 Status Quo In Broadcaster Marketplace

The Federal Communications Commission voted to reinstate the so-called “UHF discount ” until the Commission can address its national television ownership rule more holistically, in a proceeding to be launched later this year . The action effectively returns the marketplace to the status quo that existed prior to August 2016, whereby stations broadcasting in the UHF spectrum are permitted to count 50 percent of the television households in their market when determining compliance with the 39 percent national cap. In August 2016, the Commission eliminated on a party-line vote the UHF discount . The Order finds that this action had the effect of substantially tightening the national cap for companies without any analysis of whether this tightening was warranted given current marketplace conditions. The FCC now concludes that the UHF discount and national television ownership cap are inextricably linked and that the Commission’s previous decision erred by getting rid of the UHF discount without simultaneously considering whether the cap itself should be modified. The Commission plans to take up both the question of the 39 percent cap and the UHF discount later this year . Until then, the action   reinstates the pre-August 2016 status quo in the marketplace.

April 24, 2017

Amendment Of Section 73.3555(E) Of The Commission's Rules, National Television Multiple Ownership Rule.

The UHF discount allows commercial broadcast television station owners to discount the audience reach of UHF stations when calculating their compliance with the national television ownership rule.  It is thus inextricably linked to the national ownership cap. When the Commission voted to get rid of the discount, however, it failed to consider whether this defacto tightening of the national cap was in the public interest and justified by current marketplace conditions. This mistake renders the past action arbitrary and capricious. It also means that it was unwise from a public policy perspective. Thus the commission is reinstating the UHF discount for the time being and will launch a comprehensive rule making proceeding later this year to determine whether to retain it and/or modify the national cap. Because they are reinstating the UHF discount, requests to reconsider and modify the grandfathering provisions applicable to broadcast station combinations affected by elimination of the discount are dismissed as moot.  For the same reason, the claim that failure to consider the need for a VHF discount in conjunction with elimination of the UHF discount is in error is also dismissed as moot.

April 13, 2017

FCC Announces Results Of World's First Broadcast Incentive Auction 

175 TV stations, 50 wireless bidders free up 70MHz for mobile broadband

Today, the Federal Communications Commission announced the closing of the broadcast incentive auction, which created a first-of-its kind market for repurposing valuable broadcast airwaves for nationwide wireless mobile use. At $19.8 billion in gross revenue for 70MHz of spectrum, the incentive auction is among the highest grossing auctions ever conducted by the FCC. The Commission now commences a 39-month transition period to move broadcast stations to new channel assignments. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said, “The conclusion of the world’s first incentive auction is a major milestone in the FCC’s long history as steward of the nation’s airwaves. Consumers are the real beneficiaries, as broadcasters invest new resources in programming and serv ice, and additional wireless spectrum opens the way to greater competition and innovation in the mobile broadband marketplace.”

April 5, 2017

File Formats Available For the Incentive Auction Reverse And Forward Auction Results; Online Tutorial Available For The Immediate Post-Auction Process For The Forward Auction

The Incentive Auction Task Force and the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau announce the availability of educational materials regarding incentive auction data files for both the reverse auction (Auction 1001) and forward auction (Auction 1002), and the immediate post-auction process for the forward auction. Specifically, the FCC has posted to the Auction 1001 and Auction 1002 websites a document specifying the formats of the results files for each auction and other files that will be publicly available after release of the Incentive Auction Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice. In addition , the FCC has posted to the Auction 1002 website a forward auction post-auction online tutorial.

Auction Data File Formats. The file formats document describes results files and other files that will be available in the FCC Public Reporting System (PRS).  The document provides, for each data file, an overall description of the file, the data fields that are included (with definitions of the data elements in each field), the data type, examples, and notes. The file formats document is available under the “Data” section of the Auction 1001 and Auction 1002 websites (www.fcc.gov/auctions/1001 and www.fcc.gov/auctions/1002 ). The data files themselves will become available shortly after the Incentive Auction Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice is released. 

Additional files related to the post -auction television transition will be released with the Incentive Auction Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice. The file format specifications of those files will also be released at that time.

Forward Auction Post -Auction Online Tutorial. The online tutorial for the immediate post-auction process is designed t o help forward auction bidders familiarize themselves with the steps that will follow the conclusion of the auction. The tutorial provides a timeline of the immediate post-auction

March 31, 2017

Procedures For Submitting Financial Information Required For The Disbursement Of Incentive Payments After The Incentive Auction Closes.

This Public Notice provides instructions to full power and Class A broadcasters and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) who anticipate receiving incentive and/or reimbursement payment(s) following the incentive auction (collectively, Payment Applicants). These instructions describe essential steps that Payment Applicants must take before receiving incentive payments based on winning reverse auction bids or payments from the Television Broadcaster Relocation Fund (the Fund) for expenses eligible for reimbursement. This Public Notice describes and explains FCC Forms 1875 and 1876, the forms that Payment Applicants must use to provide the Commission with directions for making payments. These forms enable Payment Applicants to certify their agreement with and acknowledgement of required payment terms, to identify the individual(s) authorized to give the Commission instructions regarding payments, and to identify the financial institution and account into which payments should be made. Updating Payment Applicant Information in the Updated Commission Registration System (CORES). Prior to providing instructions for payments, each Payment Applicant must have a representative log in to the FCC User Registration System (https://apps2.fcc.gov/fccUserReg/pages/login.htm) and set up a username and password to create an FCC Username Account. Detailed instructions on how to register for an FCC Username Account can be found at: https://apps.fcc.gov/cores/html/Register_New_Account.htm.

March 27, 2017

Channel Sharing By Stations Outside The Broadcast Television Spectrum Incentive Auction Context.

In implementing Congress’s mandate to conduct a broadcast television spectrum incentive auction, the FCC previously established rules to allow full power and Class A stations that relinquish licensed spectrum usage rights in the reverse auction to share a channel with another station. These rules, however, confine channel sharing to auction-related agreements. The FCC also authorized channel sharing between low power television (LPTV) and television translator stations (collectively, “secondary stations”) to help mitigate the auction’s potential to displace secondary stations. The FCC adopted rules to allow full power and Class A stations with auction-related channel sharing agreements (CSAs) to become sharees outside of the auction context so that they can continue to operate if their auction-related CSAs expire or otherwise terminate. They also adopted rules to allow all secondary stations to share a channel with another secondary station or with a full power or Class A station. This action will assist secondary stations that are displaced by the incentive auction and the repacking process to continue to operate in the post-auction television bands. The rules adopted will enhance the benefits of channel sharing for broadcasters without imposing significant burdens on multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs).

March 24, 2017

FCC Expands Channel Sharing Opportunities For Broadcasters

The Federal Communications Commission today adopted a Report and Order that expands broadcast stations’ ability to share a single TV channel so viewers can continue to receive their broadcast programming. The ability to channel-share is an important component of the FCC’s incentive auction, mandated by Congress in 2012, which provides a voluntary opportunity for full power and Class A broadcast stations to relinquish their spectrum and share a channel with another full power or Class A broadcaster in exchange for a part of the proceeds from a related mobile wireless auction. Separately, the Commission in 2015 extended channel sharing to low power television (LPTV) and TV translator stations to help stations displaced by the incentive auction stay on the air. Today’s Order permits television broadcast stations with an auction-related channel sharing agreement (CSA) to continue channel sharing by entering into a new CSA in the event that their existing agreement ends. This enables stations to continue providing service to their viewers . The new rules also permit Class A stations to channel share outside of the auction context . Additionally, all LPTV and TV translator stations are now able to share a channel with a full power or Class A station. This flexibility gives LPTV and TV translator stations that are displaced by the auction repacking process more options for continuing to operate. It also may reduce construction and operating costs for LPTV and TV translator stations, many of which have limited resources, are minority-owned, or provide programming to underserved audiences.

March 7, 2017

Agenda for the Incentive Auction Task Force and Media Bureau Workshop on Post-Auction transition procedures.

The Incentive Auction Task Force and the Media Bureau announce the agenda for the upcoming public workshop on post -auction transition procedures . The workshop will be held on Monday, March 13, 2017, from 10:00 a.m. to 1 2:30 p.m. Agenda topics are: 

•  Overview and incentive auction status update

•  Step-by-step review of the procedures for broadcast stations filing applications for construction permits during the      39-month transition period

•  Review of procedures for submitting bank account information to ensure payment of reverse auction winnings and reimbursement of eligible expenses

•  Question & Answer session with panel of FCC staff .

The workshop will be held in the Commission Meeting Room at FCC Headquarters in Washington, DC, and is open to the public. All attendees are advised to arrive approximately 30 minutes prior to the start of the workshop to allow sufficient time to go through the security process for admission to FCC Headquarters.  Attendees are encouraged to pre-register by submitting their names and company affiliations via email to IAtransition@fcc.gov in order to expedite the check-in process the day of the event.   Please use “ Post -Auction Workshop” as the subject line in your email. The workshop will also be streamed live with open captioning over the Internet from the FCC’s web page at www.fcc.gov/live.  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.

February 27, 2017

The FCC proposes to authorize television broadcasters to use the “Next Generation” broadcast television (Next Gen TV) transmission standard associated with recent work of the Advanced Television Systems Committee (“ATSC 3.0”)

The FCC proposes to authorize television broadcasters to use the “Next Generation” broadcast television (Next Gen TV) transmission standard associated with recent work of the Advanced Television Systems Committee (“ATSC 3.0”) on a voluntary, market -driven basis, while they continue to deliver current -generation digital television (DTV) broadcast service, using the “ATSC 1.0 standard,” to their viewers. ATSC 3.0 is being developed by broadcasters with the intent of merging the capabilities of over-the-air (OTA) broadcasting with the broadband viewing and information delivery methods of the Internet, using the same 6 MHz channels presently allocated for DTV. According to a coalition of broadcast and consumer electronics industry representatives that has petitioned the Commission to authorize the use of ATSC 3.0, this new standard has the potential to greatly improve broadcast signal reception, particularly on mobile devices and television receivers without outdoor antennas, and it will enable broadcasters to offer enhanced and innovative new features to consumers, including Ultra High Definition (UHD) picture and immersive audio, more localized programming content, an advanced emergency alert system (EAS) capable of waking up sleeping devices to warn consumers of imminent emergencies, better accessibility options, and interactive services. With today’s action, the FCC aims to facilitate private sector innovation and promote American leadership in the global broadcast industry.

February 22, 2017

The Incentive Auction Task Force and the Media Bureau announce a workshop on post-auction procedures.

On Monday, March 13, 2017, the Commission’s Incentive Auction Task Force and the Media Bureau will host a public workshop to review procedures related to the post-auction broadcast transition. Following the auction, the Commission will issue a public notice beginning the 39-month period during which some full power and Class A broadcast television stations must transition to post -auction channel assignments in the reorganized television band. The workshop will include presentations and panels by Commission staff focusing on post-auction procedures. The workshop will be held in the Commission Meeting Room at FCC Headquarters in Washington, DC, and will be open to the public. Additional details, including the exact times and format for the workshop, how to register, how to view the workshop remotely, and how to obtain reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities will be released at a later date. For more information contact: Charlie Meisch, Charles.Meisch@fcc.gov, (202)418-2943. For more information about the broadcast television incentive auction, visit: http://www.fcc.gov/incentiveauctions

February 9, 2017

Incentive Auction Task Force and Media Bureau finalize catalog of reimbursement expenses.

The Commission delegated authority to the Media Bureau to, among other things, develop a catalog of eligible reimbursement expenses (Catalog) to facilitate the process of reimbursing eligible broadcasters and Multi-channel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs) from the $1.75 billion TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund (Fund). The Catalog is a non-exhaustive list, organized by category, of the equipment and services broadcasters and MVPDs are most likely to incur as a result of the 39-month post-incentive auction broadcast transition. The Bureau sought and received comment on the Catalog in September 2013, March 2014, and, most recently, October 2016 after proposing to update the Catalog’s expense categories and baseline costs. 

February 6, 2017

Office of Engineering and Technology announces release of Version 2.1 of TVStudy for processing construction permit applications filed with the Media Bureau implementing the results of the repacking process.

For purposes of the repacking process, the Commission adopted use of new software developed by the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) (called TVStudy ) and updated input values.  OET releases today a version of the TVStudy software (Version 2.1) intended to facilitate the processing of applications that implement the results of the repacking process. For example, Version 2.1 includes an updated “TV Interference Check” mode to help evaluate interference between TV stations, as will be needed for processing anticipated applications for station modifications following the auction. The updated software also includes new map output types and options, support for additional or updated underlying data sources, and several new analysis modes. While Version 2.1 includes changes necessary to facilitate application processing , it is consistent with the version of TVStudy being used during the course of the incentive auction . The full list of features and functions added in TVStudy Version 2.1 since the release of TVStudy Version 2.0.2, the prior version of TVStudy , is included in the attached changelog.  TVStudy Version 2.1 and the software configuration settings for use in processing post - auction TV applications, which are included in a template XML file (January 2017 TVStudy Template), are both available on the TVStudy website at http://www.fcc.gov/oet/tvstudy

February 6, 2017

Comments sought on the filing of the transition progress report forms and filing requirements for stations that are not eligible for reimbursement from the TV Broadcast Relocation Fund. Filing deadlines extended.

The Media Bureau extends the filing deadlines for public comment in the pending proceeding proposing to require certain broadcast television stations that are not eligible to receive reimbursement from the TV Broadcast Relocation Fund but must transition to new channels during the post -auction transition period to provide progress reports. The deadlines are extended to provide additional time for commenters that coincides with the date of Federal Register publication.

February 6, 2017

The Incentive Auction Task Force, with the Media and Wireless Telecommunications Bureaus, releases a public notice concerning; Confidential Letters regarding Post-Incentive Auction channel assignments; Limited waiver of prohibited communications rules.

The Incentive Auction Task Force and the Media Bureau announce that, within the next few days, they will send to each eligible full power or Class A television station that was not a provisionally winning bidder to go off -air at the end of Stage 4 of the reverse auction (Auction 1001) of the broadcast television incentive auction a confidential letter with important information regarding the station’s post-auction channel assignment. In addition, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau announces a limited waiver of the rule prohibiting communicating bids and bidding strategies in the reverse auction portion of the incentive auction.

February 3, 2017

Rescission of March 12. 2014, broadcast processing guidance relating to sharing arrangements and contingent interests.

This Public Notice rescinds, in its entirety and effective immediately, earlier guidance provided in a March 12, 2014, Public Notice, DA 14 -330, “Processing of Broadcast Television Applications Proposing Sharing Arrangements and Contingent Interests.” This action is taken by the Acting Chief, Media Bureau, pursuant to authority delegated by 47 C.F.R. § 0.283 of the Commission's rules.

January 27, 2017

Post-Incentive Auction Transition Scheduling Plan

The Media Bureau adopts a methodology to establish construction deadlines for full power and Class A television stations that are transitioning to new channels following the incentive auction. The Media Bureau established transition deadlines within the 39-month post-auction transition period.  In consultation with the Incentive Auction Task Force, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, and the Office of Engineering and Technology, the Media Bureau proposed a methodology for establishing deadlines within a “phased” transition schedule in the Transition Scheduling Proposal Public Notice.

The FCC proposed methodology is detailed in Appendix A (beginning on page 37.) This methodology will be used after final channel reassignments are known in order to establish an orderly schedule that will allow stations, manufacturers, and other vendors and consultants, to coordinate broadcasters’ post-auction channel changes.

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