Channel-Sharing Rules Go Into Effect Dec. 2

Eased rules allow back-up arrangements, communications
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WASHINGTON—The eased channel-sharing rules allowing TV stations to select a back-up partner, and to communicate with potential sharing partners without fear of violating the incentive auction rules, go into effect Dec. 2.

The Federal Register published the revised channel-sharing rules on Monday, triggering the 30-day effective date of Dec. 2, 2015. The Federal Communications Commission adopted the rules Oct. 21 in a Second Order on Reconsideration that modified intitial rules to make it easier for broadcasters to hammer out channel-sharing agreements before the auction commences March 29, 2016.

The rules added the option of selecting a back-up sharing arrangement in the event that both channels involved in a CSA are frozen during bidding in the reverse auction.

“It would enable both parties to a CSA to participate in the auction while mitigating the risk that the auction system could freeze both stations in the same round and thus deprive both stations of a post-auction host or ‘sharer’ station,” the commission said.

The commission was concerned that some stations would not participate in the auction if there was a risk of going off the air all together.

“By allowing the parties to secure a fallback arrangement in the event that both parties relinquish their spectrum usage rights in the auction, this clarification will help promote wider participation in the auction by broadcasters that require assurance that they will remain on the air in the DMA,” the FCC rules stated.

The commission rejected broadcaster requests to allow “contingent multi-party CSAs across multiple markets,” on the grounds that allowing them would cross antitrust rules. Stations are strictly prohibited from communicating with one another about participating in the auction with the exception of those stations in a CSA or a back-up CSA that is filed with the FCC by the auction application deadline, Dec. 18.

This prohibition runs from Dec. 18 to the close of the auction. Post-auction CSAs will be allowed within a permitted window of time, an FCC spokesman said.

Stations can only communicate with the back-up CSA party if both parties to the original sharing arrangement end up frozen out of the TV band.

“If… the auction system determines that the station can never be assigned a feasible channel in its pre-auction band in the current stage, then parties to a back-up CSA may communicate regarding bids and bidding strategy and must cease communication of this type with the party to the original CSA.”

If a host station of a CSA is frozen but wishes to continue participating in the auction, it may communicate with its provisional sharing partner.

Also see…

October 15, 2015

Incentive Auction Application Window Opens Dec. 1
Broadcasters who want to participate it the TV spectrum incentive auction will have 18 days to file their applications. The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday released its Applications Procedures Public Notice, which includes the dates of the application window.

For more information on the Spectrum Incentive Auction, join TV Technology, B&C and auction experts discussing what must be anticipated in the months to come regarding planning for, and participating in, the auction, in a live Webinar on Thursday, Nov. 5 at 2:30 p.m. ET. Please register at https://nbmedia.wufoo.com/forms/spectrum-auction-preparation-pp86mny0bbremz/.