FCC Moves Auction Application Window, Revises Opening Bids

WASHINGTON—The window for broadcasters to apply to participate in the TV spectrum incentive auction has been pushed back due to some new numbers. The Federal Communications Commission today released a Public Notice saying that it revised opening bid prices, and would therefore move the application window to Dec. 8, 2015, through Jan. 12, 2016. The window was originally set for Dec. 1 – 18, but the commission moved it to give broadcasters 60 days to consider new opening bid prices.

The original opening bid prices, released Oct. 15, have been recalculated “to reflect the corrected baseline and constraint files,” according to the PN. Constraint files comprise values related to potential interference in the repacked TV band, and population served.

“The update reflects a small number of engineering parameter changes to six stations and the license relinquishment of one station, which occurred in October,” the FCC states its Website with links to the constraint-file data.

The six stations with corrected information include:

  • WNJU, Linden, N.J. (new geographic location and parameters);
  • KOHD, Bend, Ore. (Ch. 51 move);
  • KPXE-TV, Kansas City (Ch. 51 move);
  • WPXA-TV, Rome, Georgia (Ch. 51 move);
  • KWSU-TV, Pullman, Wash. (antenna height change);
  • KEMO-TV, Santa Rosa, Calif. (discrepancy between station’s DTS facilities and information in commission databases).

Also, WAZE in Madisonville, Ky., was voluntarily downgraded from Class A to low-power status on Oct.19, 2015, which means it will not be protected in the repack and in turn, affects the constraint file data calculations.

The constraint file data is the FCC’s basis for calculating the opening bid price for a TV station license. Using a formula of population served times the interference value yields a “volume” figure, which is then multiplied by $900. The $900 figure is derived from $900 million, the FCC’s top value for a TV station, and divided into 1 million units.

“We had to come up with a scale for stations to price with lower volumes. We applied a metric of 1 million and calculated volume on scale of 1 million. We’re translating the $900 million figure to apply to every other station. It’s a two-step process,” an FCC official told TV Technology last February. (See, “FCC Proposes Top Station Opening Bids Totaling $39 Billion.”)

These prices further will be modified by which of the three options a station selects to participate: Full relinquishment or sharing; moving from a UHF to a high VHF; or from a UHF to a low VHF channel, where digital reception is less effective. These options were described in the August bidding procedures PN. (See, “Incentive Auction to Cost $226 Million.”)

Stations relinquishing their full 6 MHz to go off the air or share elsewhere will receive the full $900 x volume pricing. UHF stations moving to a low VHF will get 75 percent, or $675; and UHFs moving to a high VHF will receive 40 percent, or $360. Stations must elect one of the three options on their application—Form 177—all three, or a preferred option and a backup.

Stations accepted for participation will be presumed sold at the opening bid price.

The commission noted that “the correction of WNJU’s geographic location to One World Trade Center will make it the UHF station with the highest volume… and, therefore, the highest opening bid price. That change will also affect the population data of the largest number of other stations.”

WNJU displaced WCBS in New York as the FCC’s $900 million benchmark station. John Eggerton of B&Creported that the 99 percent of the revised opening bid prices “changed by less than 1 percent.”

The FCC will hold a workshop Tuesday Nov. 17, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET, on the reverse auction application process. Those in the D.C. area who wish to attend personally can register via email at auction1001@fcc.gov. It will be live streamed live at www.fcc.gov/live, and be available for on-demand streaming after the event. The email also will continue to be available for questions after the workshop.

November 2, 2015
Channel-Sharing Rules Go Into Effect Dec. 2
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.

October 16, 2015
Auction Opening Broadcaster Bids Released
The FCC today released the opening bid price that it will offer each broadcaster in the 2016 TV spectrum incentive auction. It provides the opening bids for the three participation options: relinquishment (including channel-sharing), moving from a UHF to a VHF, or a high VHF to a low VHF.

October 15, 2015
“Incentive Auction Application Window Opens Dec. 1”
The PN also addresses how to identify stations that are not needed in the auction, and which wireless providers are eligible for reserve bidding in each partial economic area, or PEA.

October 14, 2015
Deadline for Petitions on Auction Bidding Procedures Established
Petitions for Reconsideration of the Federal Communications Commission’s Aug. 11 Auction 1000 Bidding Procedures Public Notice are due Nov. 13.

August 11, 2015
Incentive Auction to Cost $226 Million
At 144 MHz, for example, the FCC estimates 8 percent of the population will experience some interference with wireless service, over-the-air TV reception, or both, in the 600 MHz band. At a 84 MHz, impairment would be around 14 percent; below 78 MHz, it’s capped at 20 percent.

February 9, 2015
FCC Proposes Top Station Opening Bids Totaling $39 Billion
The relationship between the maximum opening bid and high-end compensation differs in each market.