Incentive Auction Stage 2 to Begin September 13 – FCC Proposal to Clear 114 MHz

Given Tuesday’s declaration by the FCC that Stage 1 of the TV incentive auction did not meet its clearing target (in that enough was not bid in the forward auction to cover the amount needed to compensate television stations for surrendering their spectrum plus the costs of the auction itself), it is now on to Stage 2. The FCC yesterday issued a new Public Notice announcing that the second stage of the reverse auction will begin on September 13, 2016. In this second stage, the FCC will try to clear 114 MHz of spectrum, instead of the 126 MHz that was the clearing target in Stage 1. If the auction is successful in clearing 114 MHz, that means that channels 31 and below will remain in the TV band.

Yesterday’s public notice gives other information about the procedures to be used in Stage 2, and the band plan for the forward portion of the stage. It also announces that an online tutorial will be available for TV broadcasters who are participating in the auction beginning September 1, on the auction website. TV stations that were provisionally winning bidders in Stage 1 (meaning that their offer to go off the air or move to a VHF channel was accepted) will be able, according to the public notice, to determine the status of that provisional acceptance starting on September 7 by logging into the auction electronic system with their SecurID tokens that they used to place bids in Stage 1.

The Public Notice concludes with a warning that any broadcaster who filed an application to potentially participate in the auction back in January is still bound by the rules against prohibited communications. Thus, stations cannot talk about whether or not they actually participated in Stage 1 or, if they did, whether they were successful, and they certainly cannot talk about their plans for Stage 2. We wrote about these rules here, and they continue to apply until the auction is complete and the FCC announces the final results.