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FCC Seeks Comments on Design of TV Spectrum Auction

FCC invites broadcasters’ input on how to design the incentive auction

The U.S. government is seeking comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that was issued Oct. 2, 2012 concerning the implementation of the planned broadcast television spectrum incentive auction, so it has issued a summary of that NPRM that lists deadlines for comments.

On Nov. 21, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission posted on the Federal Register the NPRM summary—Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions—that lists the deadline for comments as Dec. 21, 2012, and the deadline for reply comments as Feb. 19, 2012.

The FCC is discussing the auction design issues at a high level and “invites broadcasters’ input on how to design the incentive auction so as to facilitate their participation and make it as easy as possible for them to submit successful bids. The commission also seeks comments on how to structure the auction and repacking to take into account the interests of broadcasters that will not participate in the auction.

“In considering the auction design issues, the Commission also asks commenters to keep in mind their interrelated nature, as well as the different trade-offs they pose,” the summary says.

The summary includes a synopsis of the NPRM that “is to develop rules and policies for the incentive auction process” around “three major pieces.” Those pieces are:

  • A “reverse auction’” in which broadcast television licensees submit bids to voluntarily relinquish certain broadcast rights in exchange for payments
  • A reorganization or “repacking” of the broadcast television bands in order to free up a portion of the ultra-high frequency (UHF) band for other uses
  • A “forward auction” of initial licenses for flexible use of the newly available spectrum–the “600 MHz band”

The summary also includes information on the FCC’s “proposed auction design” for the broadcast television spectrum incentive auction. “The reverse and forward auctions present different challenges, but both can be discussed in terms of three basic auction design elements,” the summary says. Those design elements are:

  • Bid collection procedures that determine how bids in the auction are gathered
  • Assignment procedures that determine which bids are accepted
  • Pricing procedures that determine what each bidder pays, or in the case of the reverse auction, receives in payment

The other major component of the incentive auction, the repacking, will help to determine which reverse auction bids the commission accepts and, therefore, is discussed in connection with reverse auction assignment procedures, the summary says.

Click here to access the Federal Register notice.