Spectrum Auction Set to End

In one of his final statements before his departure accompanying the inauguration of the Trump Administration, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced that the incentive auction of broadcast television spectrum has hit its minimum targets and will conclude after its current round. Chairman Wheeler said the auction “has delivered on its ambitious promise.”

The agency indicated it had successfully reached its thresholds for clearing 84 MHz. Chairman Wheeler stated, “We will repurpose 70 MHz of high-value, completely clear low-band spectrum for mobile broadband on a nationwide basis. On top of that, 14 MHz of new unlicensed spectrum – the test bed for wireless innovation – will be available for consumer devices and new services.” He also noted that broadcasters who participated in the auction will receive a total of approximately $10 billion and billions more will go towards reduction of the federal budget deficit, which was called for in the auction’s authorizing legislation.

While this will be the last round, the auction will continue through its final steps of wireless groups bidding on reserved and unreserved frequencies. After that, there will still be much left for the agency to do as it must work to re-pack on the spectrum displaced broadcast stations. Chairman Wheeler noted the “long road ahead” and said, “This will be an extremely important task for my successor and the new Commission; I wish them well.”

NRB will continue to urge a process that fairly honors the services and investments of all Christian television broadcasters in their local communities. In fact, in 2015, the NRB Board of Directors unanimously approved a resolution stating:

NRB hereby calls on the FCC to take care not to auction any religious broadcaster off the air; rather, the FCC should keep the interests of the viewing public paramount in the auction proceeding and not undermine programming choices for Americans, specifically the religious and family programming that NRB TV Members provide free of charge to local communities.

Last year, NRB launched SaveChristianTV.com to help its members and their constituents stand up for Christian TV ministries in the midst this FCC spectrum auction, particularly highlighting the situation of non-Class A LPTV stations. This site features public service announcements provided for free use.  In addition, the site includes a portal by which individuals can easily contact their Members of Congress on this subject. In announcing this site, NRB President & CEO Dr. Jerry A. Johnson sent a message to NRB member ministries encouraging them to pay close attention to the status of stations on which they rely to reach viewers. In his note, Johnson urged, “If your ministry’s ability to serve viewers could be impaired, now is the time to make your voice heard.  Please check out and take full advantage of SaveChristianTV.com.”

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: January 20, 2017

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