The FCC said Monday that, absent a waiver, broadcasters are free to start negotiating deals for stations that participated in the spectrum auction. Those deals will not be approved until the clock phase of the auction and the follow-on frequency assignment auction are completed (there will be a second auction to assign specific spectrum to winning forward auction bidders), but the FCC says that bar on transfers of control of auction-eligible stations does not preclude negotiating deals now and even submitting them to the FCC.
"The Commission could grant such an application because the grant alone, without consummation of the transaction, would not effectuate the assignment or transfer," the commission said in a public notice.
Broadcasters were prohibited from striking deals involving auction-eligible stations after a Jan. 12, 2016 deadline, though the FCC did grant a waiver for the Nexstar-Media General deal, which was filed only days after the deadline.
The FCC also this week will begin to send out letters to TV stations to tell them what their channel assignment will be in the post-auction TV bands. Some channels will have changed, others will not.