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June 30th, 2016

Broadcasters: Check yes or no.



By Brokaw Associate Media Director, Krista Beyer

Late last fall, the world found out about the FCC Auction.

What is the FCC Auction?

The FCC’s broadcast incentive auction is the process of buying underused TV airwaves (also known as spectrums) and selling (or auctioning) them off to mobile carriers (AT&T, Verizon, etc.). Wireless companies want more broadcast spectrum (airwaves) in order to make their mobile Internet services faster and better. So, the FCC kindly obliged to play middle man by offering to buy back underused airwaves and to sell them for billions of dollars to said mobile companies.

Say what?

Broadcasters are given the option to sell their spectrums (that they really weren’t using, because the vast majority of the U.S. has satellite or cable) for big bucks to the FCC and the FCC will sell them to Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and maybe a few tech and cable companies, so we can all have 6G speeds on our iPhones and all will be right in the world.

So, like in the days of middle school, check yes or no, broadcasters:

  • YES. TV Stations that sell to the FCC will no longer be broadcast, and their signals would transfer to cable. Meaning the national affiliate programming would remain (prime shows) but local programming would disappear.
  • NO. The FCC will move “no” stations/signals to avoid interference and use the airways efficiently. Stations moved will be required to upgrade signals and equipment to accommodate.

OK. So my cell phone will be faster, and my TV shows might move. Anything else?

Thursday, a new article regarding the FCC Auction was released stating way more television stations participated in the auction than foreseen. Meaning, some number (that is now much bigger than once thought) of stations will simply cease to exist or move.

Which brings us to…

The ole’ supply and demand, my friends: Fewer TV channels = Less advertising space = More money for said space.

Sh*t! My 2016 media budgets are set. Now what?

Don’t freak out…yet.

britney freak out

Due to the fact that way more television stations participated in the auction than foreseen, there will have to be…another auction. The FCC is estimating 2020 before the process is complete, which means for now the stations, and your 2016 media plans, remain.

And your trusty media partners (ahem, Brokaw) will continually optimize your plans based on the media environment as a whole—however it may change.