Wheeler: Look for FCC’s Auction Optimization Plan Soon


NAB-WheelerFCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had big news to deliver to NAB 2016 attendees about television.

He said the agency would move on the ATSC 3.0 petition.

He also indicated the commission intends to put out the auction optimization plan, including spectrum clearing targets, by the end of the month. “That will trigger a series of things. We’ll know the clearing plan and in May, start the reverse auction.”

In June, he’s figuring “we’ll have an idea of what the dollar target is.”

Analysts have been speculating that to be somewhere from $15 billion to $18 billion. Wheeler didn’t get into specifics, only saying: “It’s bigger than a breadbox.”

Asked whether the money set-aside and 39 month repack deadline will be enough, the chairman said the wireless companies believe both are enough and the broadcasters said the repack could take 10 years and cost twice as much. While he can’t answer specifics now, soon these items “will be known.”

Switching to retransmission consent, the agency is trying to wrap that up by the end of the year.

He wouldn’t speculate about his future plans, saying there’s 10 more months until Inauguration Day. “I want to focus on running to the tape, and not from the tape.”