FCC Incentive Auction Task Force Releases Information Package for Broadcasters

Spectrum Broadcaster Letter

IA Opportunities Book FINAL w IRS

Broadcaster participation in the incentive auction is strictly voluntary. Communicating clearly and effectively to broadcasters about the economic potential of the incentive auction is critical to its overall success.

Washington, D.C. – Today FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler  announced that an information package entitled Incentive Auction Opportunities For Broadcasters is being sent to the owners of all full power and Class A broadcast stations that Congress determined to be eligible to participate in the incentive auction. The information package was prepared for the FCC by the investment firm Greenhill and Co. Inc. and is designed to assist broadcasters in their analysis of the opportunities afforded by the incentive auction.  The package describes how the incentive auction will work and reviews the flexible multiple bidding options for broadcasters. It also includes FCC staff estimates of high end compensation that could be paid for broadcast spectrum rights in each market, and a letter from the IRS providing guidance on the tax implications of the incentive auction.

Due to the voluntary nature of the incentive auction, each broadcaster will make the decision about whether to participate based on its own assessment of its financial and business interests. Given the complexity and financial scope of the auction, the decision whether to participate is analogous to the decision faced by potential investors in large, complex transactions.  The Commission therefore contracted with Greenhill and Co., an investment firm with longstanding expertise in transactions of this sort, to prepare an information package to assist broadcasters in their analysis of the auction and the options it presents.

In a letter to station owners that accompanies the information package, Chairman Wheeler wrote, “I believe the incentive auction is an unparalleled business opportunity for broadcasters. I hope you give careful consideration to the economic potential that it offers you.”

Highlights from the information package include the following:

  • The FCC has the sole ability to unlock spectrum value through the reorganization of the UHF band that cannot be matched by individual private sales or leases.
  • Multiple bidding options offer significant flexibility to broadcasters including the option to relinquish their spectrum and remain on the air through channel sharing. Initial participation in the auction only commits broadcasters to accept the opening bid price.
  • Robust participation from all sized markets is key to the incentive auction’s success. Due to the “daisy chain” nature of interference, mid- and smaller size markets will be able to derive substantial value for their spectrum usage rights.
  • Estimated high end compensation values of what broadcasters in each market could be paid in an optimal scenario that were generated by FCC staff using a methodology similar to the auction methodology currently under development.
  • The estimated high end compensation for an individual station ranges from several million dollars to hundreds of millions of dollars, with some of the highest estimates being in mid-size and smaller markets. Of course, the actual prices broadcasters will receive will only be determined in the auction itself.
  • The IRS letter describes the Federal income tax provisions most likely to be relevant to compensation received by broadcasters whose bids are selected in the incentive auction and relocation reimbursements to stations that are repacked as part of the auction.


To accompany the release of the information package, the Incentive Auction Task force has updated its Learn Everything About Reverse Auctions Now webpage (www.FCC.gov/LEARN) to include information for broadcasters potentially interested in participating in the incentive auction. A complete version of the information package prepared for the FCC by Greenhill, the IRS guidance, and Chairman Wheeler’s letter to broadcasters are available there as well.


For further information, contact A.J. Glusman (202-418-1425; aj.glusman@fcc.gov).  Press contact:  Tamara Smith (202-418-2994; tamara.smith@fcc.gov).


Comments are closed.


Dear Fellow LPTV Broadcaster and Industry Leaders,

The auction has ended and most of us are still here.  While it was not only our hope but the hope of many others that the auction would not take place . . . it did, but it did not have the devastating effect that it might have had. 

The world after the auction looks different and amazingly so has a very bright future!

What does that future look like?  Not only the amazing possibilities of ATSC 3.0 but the landscape of a nation of people who are increasingly cutting their cable cords and looking for free, over the air, broadcasting content.

That’s why it’s more important than ever that you join the Advanced Television Broadcast Alliance.  Our board of directors have a combined 500+ years of experience which beginning with your membership we are going to start making more available to our members on an increasing basis.

Soon as an ATBA member, you will be eligible to start tapping into not only this brain trust through unique services available only to our members but regular news updates regarding our collective broadcast future.  We are exploring new ways to tap into information from Washington as well as important updates that will benefit you right there where you live.

The need for the ATBA has increased with the new opportunities that are becoming available for those of us who still know that the future of LPTV, Class A and Translators is bright!  Are you selling your station to local sponsors?  Are you maximizing your spectrum to the advantage that you truly can?  Are you struggling with FCC rules and regulations that you either don’t understand or can’t get explained?

The ATBA is developing a database of information to help you find the answers you need! 

In addition we are still working with the true decision makers in Washington.  Your ATBA has earned the respect and the ear of the true movers and shakers that continue to shape our collective broadcasting future.

So what can you do to get involved and begin to take advantage of these, and many other, benefits?  Join the ATBA today!  Your membership benefits will include:

  1. Members only access to hundreds of years of LPTV experience through our new “Brain Trust”
  2. Early entry to our annual NAB LPTV evening event with access to our special event guest(s)
  3. Exclusive digital content regarding real world information you need to know
  4. Eligibility for recognition for your hard work through our ATBA LPTV Awards
  5. Access to equipment manufacturers with discounts available especially for ATBA members!

To be honest you can’t afford not to be a member of the ATBA! 

We’re making it affordable because it’s a win – win!  When you join, you’re going to receive more than just the benefits listed above but also you’ll be aligning with hundreds of others who, like yourself, have a vested interest in the continued forward movement of free, over-the-air broadcasting.  It’s a win for your ATBA because we will increase our strength through numbers as we grow together.

So what’s the next step?  If you’re ready follow this link https://www.broadcastingalliance.org/join-us/ to sign up.  If you have more questions please don’t hesitate to call a member of the ATBA board of directors by calling this number (877) 214-4277.   You’ll get a rapid response!

Thanks for taking the time to read this note and for your ongoing passion for the future of communication in this great country.


The Board of Directors – The Advanced Television Broadcast Alliance