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FCC delays spectrum auction vote to Aug. 6

 - Legal, technical experts to report on decision, impact at TAB show

The FCC last week delayed until Aug. 6 its scheduled adoption of a public notice specifying the detailed procedures to be used in the incentive spectrum auction, just in time for a panel of legal and technical experts to offer their insights into how the procedures will affect repacking of TV and FM stations at a session late that afternoon at the TAB Annual Convention in Austin.  The text of the commission’s rules will likely not be available for another two days or more.

At this time it appears that bidding in the auction is tentatively slated to begin March 29, according to a list of items on circulation among the commissioners published on the FCC website, though attorney David Oxenford with Wilkson Barker Knauer cautions the date could be voted down or changed before it becomes final.

Oxenford will join engineers Jay Adrick with GatesAir and Joe Meleski with ERI at the TAB show in a session advising TV GMs and engineers of the FCC’s discussion and decision and how it will affect TV and FM stations in the eventual repacking that will result from the auction.


He reports that the auction details have grown still more complex in recent weeks. Various proposals have surfaced involving the potential placement of TV stations that do not enter the auction and don’t fit into the repacked TV band in congested markets into the “duplex gap” between the wireless frequencies that are to be used for the upload and download of wireless communications.

“If TV stations end up in the duplex gap,” Oxenford writes in a recent blog post, “it would displace unlicensed spectrum users, including wireless microphone users, that were initially to use the spectrum and it could potentially create consumer reception issues for any TV stations that end up in this spectrum removed from the adjacent TV stations, where the spectrum would be used for TV in only a limited number of markets.”

The impact of some of these proposals on translators that are key to the ability of some TV stations in Texas and many western states to reach current viewers could be devastating, potentially depriving significant numbers of viewers in rural areas of the country of local broadcasters’ lifesaving emergency warnings, disaster recovery information and other news programming they rely upon.

TAB and counterparts from other states where translators are critically necessary to providing coverage to rural communities are educating commissioners of the importance of protecting translators.  To date, those efforts have yielded important support in some quarters and they will continue until the last possible moment before the Aug. 6 vote.

Questions?  Contact TAB's Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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