The use of public airwaves has always come with public obligations. But nobody seems to be asking what the people are getting back from this auction.
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. That stage concluded in October, followed by Stage 3’s conclusion in December, each with fewer channels in play. Stage 4 will begin Dec. 13. The auction will continue until broadcasters’ desired earnings match what buyers will pay.