The FCC just took another step toward the TV incentive auction, and set one of the first of what will no doubt be many deadlines for stations to meet as part of the process. The FCC released a list of all stations that they find to be eligible to participate in the incentive auction. These are also the stations that will be protected in the post-auction repacking of the television spectrum if their licenses are not surrendered as part of the auction process.  The Commission also released a public notice explaining the next steps in the process and setting the July 9 filing deadline. The public notice sets out a process for any licensee that believes that its station was incorrectly left off the list of eligible stations to request that its station be included – so all station owners should carefully review the list now.

The Public Notice asks licensees to certify on a new FCC form, the “Pre-Auction Technical Certification Form,” FCC Form 2100 Schedule 381, that the information in the FCC’s technical databases regarding their station is accurate or, if it is not, to file corrections and explanations as to why the information is wrong. This new form will be filed in the FCC’s new LMS electronic filing system, and is due from all TV stations eligible to participate in the auction by July 9.  In addition, each station needs to provide information about the specifics of the facilities with which they operate – including specifics on their transmitter, antenna and tower.  This information will be used by the FCC to evaluate how to repack stations, taking into account their coverage and the costs associated with replacing the station’s equipment after the repacking.All TV stations (full-power and Class A) on the eligible station list need to file the new form, even if the licensee does not plan to participate in the auction or even though the licensee believes that its stations are far enough from any major city that it is unlikely that the auction will affect them.

Stations should be gathering this information as soon as possible so that they can begin to complete the FCC form to make certain that it is on file by the July 9 deadline.