Earlier this week, we wrote about the Court of Appeals decision denying appeals of the FCC’s 2014 order setting the framework for the incentive auction to reclaim spectrum used by TV stations and repurpose it for use by wireless companies to provide more high-speed wireless broadband opportunities. But, in addition to the appeals, there were also a number of petitions for reconsideration of the 2014 order. Those were also resolved in an FCC order released last month. Many of the issues considered concerned technical matters as to how the new wireless spectrum would be allocated and sold after it is acquired from the broadcasters. But the order also resolved a number of issues of specific importance to broadcasters, some of which could potentially result in another appeal of the 2014 order to the Court of Appeals.

Initially, in its reconsideration order, the FCC refused to reconsider the modifications to the OET-69 standard for determining interference between television stations as that issue was before the Court of Appeals in the appeal filed by Sinclair and the NAB – the appeal that was denied by the FCC the week before this order was released. The use of the TVStudy updates to the inputs to the OET-69 have again been in the news this week, as the FCC released new population counts for each auction-eligible station as computed by using this information, and asked for comment on this information by July 30. The population served by a TV station is a very important input into how much a station would receive to surrender its spectrum in the incentive auction (just how important that input will be is an issue to be addressed at the FCC meeting next week). The FCC request for comments is here, and the table showing the FCC’s prediction of the population served by each auction-eligible TV station is here. This updated information has already proved to be controversial, with one association representing probable auction participants suggesting that the recomputation of a NY TV station that will set the highest opening offer to buy out the spectrum of any TV station, and from which the offers to other lesser valued stations will be derived, could have the impact of lessening initial buyout offers to other broadcasters (see the blog post here).
Continue Reading TV Incentive Auction Moves Forward – The FCC Denies Reconsideration of Auction Framework, Asks for Comments on TVStudy Predictions of Station Coverage to be used in Determining Station Values

While many broadcasters have been watching Capitol Hill as Congress debates the issues surrounding the extension of satellite TV’s copyright permission to retransmit over-the-air television signals, and the attempts to add other provisions to the bill that could affect television stations, there are a number of issues teed up at the FCC that could also affect the industry.  In the tentative agenda for the September 30 FCC open meeting, there are two issues being considered that have impact on TV.  One has received much press coverage is the repeal of the sports blackout rule that leads to the blackout of local coverage of NFL games when the game is not sold out.  From a blog post by the Chairman (available here), and statements of other commissioners, it appears that this rule is headed for repeal – though the actual blackouts may continue by contract rather than FCC mandate. 

The other issue on the agenda that has received less press, and about which less is known, is changes to the rules on white-spaces devices, those wireless devices that have been authorized to operate on a non-interference basis in the portions of the TV band that are not being used in particular markets.  We wrote about the adoption of the current rules, here, and we will be watching to see what changes to these rules are adopted later this month.  Also on the agenda, with possible relevance to television and other media companies, is an item to further consider how to regulate the use of wireless microphones.
Continue Reading FCC Action on TV Issues Coming Soon – Sports Blackout Rule, White Spaces, Post-Auction Treatment of LPTV and TV Translators, and OET-69 Revisions