Below you will find the frequently asked questions concerning the upcoming FCC Spectrum Auction and how it will effect your public media station WTVP.

What is the "Spectrum Auction"?

The FCC will conduct a "spectrum auction" in 2016. Spectrum is used to transmit electromagnetic signals for a wide-range of uses, including television broadcasting, cell phones, microwaves, wireless microphones, radio, and navigation equipment, among many others. This means that the federal government will be buying spectrum from television broadcast license holders (in a process called a "Reverse Auction") and selling purchased spectrum to wireless companies (such as Verizon, AT&T, etc.) so that they can provide broader service to users of mobile and other wireless devices.

There are three separate but related elements of the spectrum auction:

  • Voluntary Reverse Auction for Broadcasters: In a reverse auction, unlike in a traditional (forward) auction, the prices or bids decrease in each round.
  • Voluntary Forward Auction: Wireless broadband providers may bid to purchase that spectrum from the FCC in this traditional auction.
  • Mandatory Nationwide Repack: Once the voluntary auctions are complete, there will be a mandatory nationwide reorganizing of channels, or repacking, to condense the broadcast band. Any station on any channel in any market may be required to relocate to a new frequency in a process that will take at least three years to complete.
Video: The FCC Spectrum Auction - What, When, & Why it Matters

This video helps explain what electromagnetic spectrum is, why it matters, and how that all relates to the auction. It is suitable for anyone interested in learning more about the spectrum auction.

Note: Video states Dec 18 as application filing deadline. The FCC has now extended it to January 12, 2016.

Video: FCC Spectrum Auction - The Reverse Auction in Depth

This video goes into more detail about all aspects of the reverse auction - the process, the timing, and the key considerations. It is specifically designed for decision makers but it is also suitable for anyone interested in learning more about the auction.

Note: Video states Dec 18 as application filing deadline. The FCC has now extended it to January 12, 2016.

Video: FCC Spectrum Auction - Repacking

This video helps explain what electromagnetic spectrum is, why it matters, and how that all relates to the auction. It is suitable for anyone interested in learning more about the spectrum auction.

Will WTVP be participating in the spectrum auction?

All broadcast television stations will be invited to participate in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) spectrum auction, but WTVP will definitely not be relinquishing its broadcast license in the process. Like most commercial and non-commercial broadcast license holders, WTVP is evaluating the FCC spectrum auction to determine the best course of action for our viewers. No decision has been made at this time, but the goal is to emerge from the auction process as an even stronger public media organization for central Illinois in the digital age.

How much will spectrum sellers be paid?

It is not possible to know how much spectrum sellers will be paid. While the reported opening bid prices may be significant because of the nature of a reverse auction, they are the maximum initial bids and they are expected to fall significantly during the course of the auction. The final prices that the FCC is paying spectrum sellers will not be made public until the process is complete.

It is also a strong possibility that the reverse auction will be over before it ever reaches the Peoria TV market.

If WTVP does participate in the Auction and it receives money as a result, what will the proceeds be used for?

Any auction proceeds-- and it is premature at this time to assume what, if any, there will be-- would be a one-time-only source of revenue and would be used to benefit the operations and our viewers. The first priority would be to move to the new channel assignment, an estimated $2 million project. Then we would invest in upgrading aging equipment and making WTVP the best public media outlet it can be for our region. We are mindful of the trust that the public has placed in us and we intend to honor that trust in any decision made with regard to the FCC spectrum auction.

Is WTVP "selling" to wireless companies such as Verizon and AT&T to make a profit?

No. The government determined that there was a need for additional spectrum to accommodate growing wireless technology needs. The decision to sell spectrum to wireless companies was the FCC's, as directed by Congress. The FCC is sending out opening bids to all TV stations. Throughout the auction process, WTVP will stay focused on our commitment to the community.

Who holds the licensee for WTVP?

WTVP is licensed to the Illinois Valley Public Telecommunications Corporation, a not-for-profit, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to serving the region with noncommercial, educational programs.

If WTVP participates in the auction, will there be a change in the coverage areas?
Will areas that receive public television no longer receive public television?

Since we are still evaluating the spectrum auction, it is premature to say. Signal coverage can vary according to channel number, UHF versus VHF, power levels, height of tower and interference from other stations, among other factors. This should not impact cable TV and satellite subscribers. Be assured that any action we take is predicated on how best to serve the community in the digital age.

Will the repacking affect the stations' coverage area?

We believe that it is the FCC's intent to minimize the impact on viewers in the mandatory repack, though there may be some change.

What does "channel sharing" mean?

"Channel sharing", in the spectrum auction context, means that a television licensee opts to sell its spectrum in the auction in order to share a television channel with another licensee. Essentially, two TV stations agree to operate on one channel.

Aren't the airwaves "public" property? Why is the government auctioning them off?

Radio frequency spectrum is a natural resource and Congress has given the FCC the responsibility to manage it in the best interest of the American public. In a law passed by Congress called "The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012," the FCC was given the authority to conduct the spectrum auction in order to better manage and allocate the available spectrum, as a result of the nation's increased demand for wireless communication.

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