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FCC Releases Baseline Station Coverage for Auction and Repacking

The FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) today released the final version of its TVStudy software, which calculates TV station coverage areas for use in the spectrum auction and repacking.  The software can be accessed here.

In addition, pursuant to an earlier order of the FCC directing the OET to “release a detailed summary of baseline coverage area and population served by each television station to be protected in the repacking process,” the OET today released a 65 page table laying out its coverage area calculations for TV stations across the country using the final version of the TVStudy software.

The table includes baseline data for each station’s noise-limited, terrain-limited, and interference-free coverage areas and population served.  In an accompanying Public Notice, the OET indicated that the “noise-limited data reflects the coverage area within the station’s contour that will be replicated and the interference-free population data reflects the population served by the station that will be protected from interference” in the repacking.

The Public Notice cautions “that the list of stations included in the baseline data released today is not the final list of stations eligible for repacking protection” (which was addressed in an earlier Public Notice), and that “the baseline data released today reflects the current information in the Commission’s databases and is subject to update based on licensees’ Pre-Auction Technical Certifications,” which are due on July 9, 2015.

The FCC is therefore requesting comments on the baseline data, and has set a July 30, 2015 deadline for those comments.  Once it has had an opportunity to consider them, “OET will release the final baseline data to be used for purposes of the incentive auction and the repacking process well in advance of the auction. The final baseline data will contain the final list of eligible stations based on corrections from any ‘Petition for Eligible Entity Status’ and any corrected data from the Pre-Auction Technical Certifications.”

In addition to making sure they get their Pre-Auction Technical Certifications on file with the FCC by the July 9th deadline, stations should examine today’s baseline data for any surprises or anomalies that they will want to address in their comments.  As the FCC’s auction and repacking plans firm up, TV broadcasters will want to make sure to catch any mistakes in their stations’ data before those errors become ingrained in the Commission’s auction and repacking planning.