To prepare for the restructuring of broadcast television, public TV leaders must develop a coherent strategy for investing in innovation and public service.
The 2016 Spectrum Auction
With use of wireless devices growing, an FCC auction now underway aims to free up spectrum for use by consumers. Licensees of public TV stations have an opportunity to give up spectrum in the auction and profit by selling it to wireless providers. The outcome, still months away, could bring big changes to the availability of public TV across the country.
The first round of bidding began May 31 for 126 MHz of spectrum and concluded in September with the sellers’ asking prices exceeding what buyers are willing to pay by $60 billion. Stage 2 began Sept. 13, with the FCC adjusting to the lower demand for spectrum by aiming to clear fewer channels at lower prices. The first phase of Stage 2 concluded Thursday with broadcasters asking for $54.5 billion for 114 MHz of spectrum. Bidders will begin their round Wednesday. The auction could proceed to additional rounds, each with fewer channels in play, until what broadcasters want to earn matches what sellers will pay.