Repacking

Repacking involves reorganizing television stations in the broadcast television bands so that stations that remain on the air after the incentive auction occupy a smaller portion of the UHF bad, thereby freeing up a portion of that band for new wireless services uses.

In May 2014, the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology and the International, Media, and Wireless Telecommunications Bureaus, members of the Incentive Auction Task Force, released an updated set of constraint files which represents the results of staff analysis of whether a television station could be assigned to particular channels in the incentive auction repacking process, consistent with statutory and other requirements, using actual rather than “proxy” channels. This data was released in concert with a staff analysis on the potential for aggregate interference in the repacking process. The constraint files consist of two separate files, the “domain file” and the “interference_paired file.” In addition, updated data about incumbent licensees in the broadcast television bands has been pulled from FCC databases and posted as five separate data files.

Explore the Public Notice Explore the Appendix Download Constraint Data Simulation Results

In July 2013, the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology and the International, Media, and Wireless Telecommunications Bureaus and the Incentive Auction Task Force released a preliminary set of constraint files which represents the results of staff analysis of whether a television station could be assigned to particular channels in the incentive auction repacking process, consistent with statutory and other requirements, based on certain preliminary assumptions. The constraint files consist of two separate files, the “domain file” and the “interference_paired file.” In addition, data about incumbent licensees in the broadcast television bands has been culled from FCC databases and posted as five separate data files.

Explore the Public Notice Explore the Appendix Download Constraint Data

The FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) released software to perform interference analyses using the methodology described in its Bulletin No. 69 (OET–69). This software, called TVStudy, provides analysis of coverage and interference of full-service digital and Class A television stations and will be critical to the repacking process.

Download the TVStudy Software – OET Bulletin No. 69

Implementation of the repacking process is driven by the Spectrum Act's express requirement that the FCC must “make all reasonable efforts to preserve, as of [February 22, 2012], the coverage area and population served of each broadcast television licensee, as determined using the methodology described in OET Bulletin 69 of the Commission’s Office of Engineering and Technology” (“OET-69”). The Commission interprets this mandate to require that the Agency strive to preserve full power and Class A stations' existing service as of that date without sacrificing the objectives of the incentive auction. Rather than merely attempting to preserve the same total population served by each station, all reasonable efforts will be made to preserve the same specific viewers it served as of February 22, 2012.

The methodology described in OET-69 will be used to determine the coverage area and population served of each station, the computer software and input values used to implement that methodology must be updated. Among other things, doing so will ensure that the auction software is capable of the rapid, complex calculations necessary to support the reverse auction and the repacking process, and that the most accurate population and other data available is being used.

Broadcast Facilities to Be Protected in the Repacking Process

As required by the Spectrum Act, full power and Class A facilities that were operating pursuant to a license (or a pending application for a license to cover a construction permit) on February 22, 2012 will be protected in the repacking process. In addition, discretion will be used to protect additional facilities based on consideration of the potential impact on the flexibility in the repacking process and auction goals, as well as whether doing so would strand investment by broadcasters licensed on a primary basis, the potential loss of service by existing viewers, and the potential impact on the Class A service's digital transition.

Except in very limited circumstances, the FCC will limit discretionary protection to the following categories of facilities so long as they are constructed and licensed prior to a Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline to be announced by the Media Bureau:

  • the small number of new full power television stations that were authorized, but not constructed or licensed, as of February 22, 2012
  • full power facilities authorized in construction permits issued to effectuate a channel substitution for a licensed station
  • modified facilities of full power and Class A stations that were authorized by construction permits granted on or before April 5, 2013, the date the Media Bureau issued a freeze on the processing of certain applications
  • minor change facilities authorized to implement Class A stations’ mandated transition to digital operations