Broadcast TV

The FCC Media Bureau’s designated May 29, 2015 “Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline” is rapidly approaching.  Full power and Class A facilities must be licensed by this deadline in order to be eligible for protection in the repacking process that will be part of the television incentive auction. For these purposes, facilities subject to a pending application

Last week, the FCC released a Public Notice (“PN”), following up on its July Public Notice, concerning the software to be used during the Incentive Auction to determine whether the acceptance of each bid from a broadcaster will result in a feasible, and optimal, repacking process.
Continue Reading SpectrumWatch: FCC Releases Information Related to Repacking Process

A congressional subcommittee held an oversight hearing Tuesday addressing the Federal Communications Commission’s progress in setting rules for the upcoming incentive auction of television broadcast spectrum for mobile broadband use. On Monday, the FCC released a Public Notice addressing one aspect of those rules, which would govern how TV stations that do not sell their spectrum would be assigned new channels. This process is known as the “repacking” of the broadcast spectrum.

Also Tuesday, a Senate bill that would encourage cable and satellite operators to allow subscribers to purchase channels a la carte picked up its first Democratic co-sponsor, Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
Continue Reading SpectrumWatch: Congress, FCC Consider Options for TV Spectrum Repacking, Cable Pricing

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that the retransmission consent agreement between Nexstar Broadcasting Inc. and Time Warner Cable, Inc. allows Time Warner to rebroadcast the signals of three television stations owned by Nexstar without any geographic restriction across its entire system.  Rejecting Nexstar’s request for an injunction to stop Time Warner from retransmitting certain Nexstar broadcasts to distant markets, the Court of Appeals found that the agreement between the companies likely allows Time Warner to do so.  The Court of Appeals thus upheld the District Court’s decision to deny an injunction sought by Nexstar.
Continue Reading Appeals Court Finds that Retransmission Consent Agreement Allows Time Warner to Rebroadcast Nexstar Signals Across Entire System

As we reported previously, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Matter of Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions (“NPRM”), along with an accompanying paper by auction specialists Auctionomics and Power Auctions.

In this post, we describe the proposed rules for the incentive auction and the “repacking” of broadcast spectrum. The incentive auction is made up of three parts: (1) a reverse auction, in which broadcasters may bid to sell spectrum rights; (2) a forward auction, in which mobile carriers may bid to purchase spectrum rights; and (3) a repacking process, in which the FCC will reconfigure broadcast television allotments to take up a smaller portion of the UHF band ― thereby maximizing the amount of spectrum that could be made available in the forward auction.

As the NPRM explains, all three of these pieces are interdependent.  “[T]he amount of spectrum available in the forward auction will depend on reverse auction bids and repacking, winning reverse auction bidders will be paid from the forward auction proceeds, and our repacking methodology will help to determine which reverse auction bids we accept and what channels we assign the broadcast stations that remain on the air.  For the incentive auction to succeed, all three pieces must work together.”Continue Reading Spectrum Watch: A Closer Look at the FCC’s Proposed Rules for First-Ever Incentive Auction and Repacking of Broadcast Spectrum

The Federal Communications Commission has announced the addition of several new features to its online public inspection file system for TV broadcasters. The new features allow stations to upload documents such as Annual EEO Public File Reports, lists of ownership-related contracts and agreements, and supplemental materials related to applications, authorizations, and EEO investigations.

The FCC’s rules require TV stations to maintain these documents in their public files, but when the online public file system launched on August 2, stations weren’t able to upload these documents. That is because several sections of the online public file system — including the Application, Authorization, Ownership and EEO pages of each station’s file — were designed so that they could only draw documents from the FCC’s electronic CDBS filing system. Previously, there was no way for stations to place any documents in these sections that were not filed through CDBS. 
Continue Reading FCC Updates Online Public File System for TV Broadcasters

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the full text of its widely-anticipated proposed rules for an incentive auction of television spectrum and broadcast “repacking” process that will accompany the auction.  (The FCC had voted to adopt these proposed rules on Friday, but had not released the text until yesterday.)  The proposed rules address three principal issues: (1) the reverse auction, whereby broadcasters would voluntarily agree to return all or a portion of their spectrum in exchange for a share of proceeds from the forward auction; (2) the forward auction, wherein wireless carriers bid on the freed-up broadcast spectrum; and (3) the (involuntary) repacking of broadcast spectrum to into a smaller television band.

Of important note, the FCC anticipates a relatively fast-moving process that aims to hold the incentive auction in 2014, with the repacking following thereafter. This goal means that the FCC would have to adopt incentive auction rules by the middle of 2013.  Comments in response to the NPRM are due December 21, 2012 and reply comments are due February 19, 2012.Continue Reading SpectrumWatch: FCC Initiates Incentive Auction Rulemaking