Washington

FCC NPRM Draft: Repacked Stations Generally to Retain at Least 98% of Coverage Area

Proposed rulemaking points to initial DTV transition as guide, but seeks comment on that estimate 9/11/2012 04:28:11 PM Eastern

According to FCC sources, the draft framework for spectrum
incentive auctions assumes that the repacking model it adopts will result,
"generally" in less than a 2% loss of coverage are for stations that
are moved or consolidated to free up spectrum for auction.

By statute, the FCC must make all reasonable efforts to
preserve coverage areas and interference protections for stations that opt to
retain some or all of their spectrum.

While the language could change between now and the planned
Sept. 28 vote on the notice of proposed rulemaking, the item currently
anticipates, based on the FCC's experience with moving and repacking stations
for the 2009 DTV transition, that the move will "generally impact less
than 2% of a station's coverage area," although it does seek comment on
that.

While a more detailed model of the auction design, an
appendix to the notice, is still forthcoming -- look for that to be circulated
to all the commissioners this week, said one of the sources speaking on
background -- the model for the broadcaster reverse auction is a "reverse
clock" proposal. In that model, the FCC will ask: "Who is willing to
give up spectrum for $1 million, who's in for $900,000?" and so on, until
it gets to the lowest bid. Even if there are several broadcasters who stay in
until that lowest bid, they won't necessarily get a payout since the FCC will
have to decide through its repacking optimization model which stations make the
most sense.

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