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By Phil Kurz
The FCC voted unanimously Sept. 28 on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding incentive auctions that aim to clear TV spectrum for mobile broadband use.
The incentive auction process will proceed in three steps: reverse auctions, in which TV broadcasters looking to exit the business or relinquish a part of their spectrum submit a bid amount they’re willing to take for their spectrum; a repacking of the remaining UHF band; and a forward auction of the spectrum to wireless carriers.
The notice raises important questions for broadcasters, such as: Will the commission be able to ensure that repacked stations continue to reach their service areas without increased co-channel or adjacent channel interference? Will the $1.75 billion being set aside to pay for broadcasters’ expenses associated with the repacking be sufficient, and if not, then what? And, can a repacking really be accomplished given existing agreements with Canada and Mexico regarding channel assignments along the U.S. border?
One other fundamental question exists as well, says Dennis Wharton, NAB executive VP, communications. Will there be enough broadcasters to volunteer to take part in the auction to meet the goals the agency has laid out, especially since TV broadcasters have rebounded from the depths of the recession when they experienced the sharpest fall off in commercial revenue in their history?
In this podcast interview, Wharton discusses the recent notice and the important questions it raises.