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February 13, 2017

Prepare for Post-Spectrum Auction Repacking

As the broadcast spectrum incentive auction draws to a close, stations should begin preparing, if they have not already, for the possibility they will be assigned to a new channel as part of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) repacking of the television band. We anticipate the FCC will release a public notice marking the official start of the repack in April. All repacked stations will then have three months to submit construction permit applications and cost estimates to the FCC for their channel moves.

The FCC has sent confidential letters to television stations that are not winning auction bidders. These letters tell stations whether or not they are being repacked and, if so, what their new channels and approved technical parameters are. This potentially provides broadcasters with a head start on preparing their construction permit applications and cost estimates.

The FCC itself cannot yet make this information public. However, the FCC did waive its rules regarding prohibited communications among broadcasters during the reverse auction – clearing the way for stations to exchange information regarding their new channel assignments. To facilitate the exchange of information among repacked television stations (for example, to allow stations to find out what other stations in their market or on their tower are being moved), NAB has prepared an online form stations can use to enter their information and then access information entered by other stations. The link to the form can be found here.

Participation is voluntary, but this resource will only be useful if most or all stations participate. Filling out the form should take just a few minutes per station. Stations will need to simply enter the information directly from the FCC letter they receive. We urge all television stations to participate, whether or not they will be repacked.

Please feel free to contact Patrick McFadden in the NAB Legal department at (202) 775-4983 or pmcfadden@nab.org with any questions.