The FCC took its first steps in launching future incentive auctions of broadcast television spectrum with the enactment of rules late last week that permit two or more broadcast TV licensees to share a single 6 MHz channel. Intended to “promote innovation and investment in mobile communications” while helping to “preserve broadcast television as a healthy, viable medium,” the new rules apply to commercial and non-commercial full power Class A television stations that may opt voluntarily to relinquish spectrum—and thus receive compensation for that spectrum—through the incentive auction process. Under the Report and Order adopted last Thursday, broadcasters that opt to share channels would each retain their respective licenses and call signs and would each be required to operate on sufficient spectrum to offer at least one standard-definition programming channel. Terms for the channel-sharing framework would be determined independently by participating broadcasters, who would also retain “must carry” rights to compel carriage on cable and satellite systems that serve the same designated market area. The order does not set a deadline by which broadcasters would be required to notify the FCC of their channel sharing intentions. FCC Media Bureau Video Division Chief Rebecca Hanson also told reporters that the agency has scheduled a channel sharing workshop on May 22 “to get input from folks in the workplace who are working with clients” and who can “inform us of anything we might need to do in additional rulemakings.” Praising the Report and Order as “an important first step,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski pledged, “we will continue our work to ensure that broadcasters have the information they need with the channel sharing workshop on May 22.” Steve Largent, the CEO of wireless association CTIA, proclaimed that “consumers will benefit as wireless providers will have an opportunity to purchase the repacked spectrum for billions at auction,” as he applauded the FCC for “making TV spectrum license holders more efficient users of this finite resource.”