FCC Waives Auction Quiet Period
Stations can discuss repack strategies
February 6, 2017
WASHINGTON—The Federal Communications Commission today waived the quiet period that enjoined broadcasters from talking shop during the TV spectrum incentive auction. After the auction closing criteria were met by wireless bidders Jan. 18, broadcasters were no longer subject to another round of reverse auction bidding, and broadcast attorneys started asking when stations could communicate about post-auction repack plans. (See “Broadcast Lawyers to FCC: Can We Talk?” Jan. 30, 2017.)
“The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau waives the rules prohibiting communication
between specified parties of any incentive auction applicant’s reverse auction bids or bidding strategies,” the commission said today in a Public Notice. “This limited waiver will serve the public interest in a rapid, non-disruptive post-auction transition by
enabling broadcasters and related parties to prepare by communicating post-auction channel assignment
information without risk of violating FCC rules. This limited waiver does not affect the rules that
prohibit communication of any incentive auction applicant’s forward auction bids or bidding strategies.”
Forward auction participants, who are still bidding for spectrum, will remain under a quiet period until the deadline for down payment on winning bids.
In its auction Bidding Procedures Public Notice released Aug. 11, 2015, the commission said it would impose a “prohibition on communicating information relating to bids or bidding strategies, such as non-public information that bidders may access in the auction system, to broadcast licensees eligible to participate in the reverse auction or to forward auction applicants, subject to specified exceptions,” involving joint ownership and channel-sharing arrangements.
In the same Public Notice, the FCC Media Bureau also noted that it would be sending out confidential letters to all full-power and Class A stations that intend to continue broadcasting confidential letters informing them of their repack channel assignments. These will be going out within “the next few days,” the PN said.
For more TV Technology coverage, check our spectrum auction silo.