FCC hews to mid-2015 time frame for spectrum auction

By Ben Mook

The FCC affirmed today that it plans to hold the spectrum incentive auction for television broadcasters in mid-2015 and will issue the awaited report and orders this spring.

The announcement is in line with a December statement by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler that delayed the original target date of holding the auction this year.

Gary Epstein, the FCC’s Incentive Auction Taskforce Chairman, assured FCC commissioners at today’s open meeting that the auction will not take place until auction software is thoroughly tested and stakeholders are made aware of the process.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai emphasized the importance of outreach to ensure that broadcasters participate in the process and testing. To increase participation, broadcasters must get an idea of what the potential payoff could be for selling spectrum, he said. “In short, we need to turn the abstract concept of an incentive into the concrete reality of cash,” Pai said.

Epstein also announced two workshops to be held Feb. 21. The first will focus on repacking the spectrum and the feasibility of the process. The other workshop will address potential interference issues between television and wireless.

In other business, commissioners unanimously praised a channel-sharing pilot program announced this week between public TV station KLCS, licensed to the Los Angeles Unified School District, and bilingual commercial TV station KJLA. CTIA, an international organization representing the wireless communications industry, is supervising the initiative in conjunction with the Association of Public Television Stations.

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