[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 205 (Monday, October 24, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 73044-73055]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-25333]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Parts 1, 27, 73, and 76

[GN Docket No. 12-268, MB Docket No. 16-306; DA 16-1095]


Incentive Auction Task Force and Media Bureau Seek Comment on 
Post-Incentive Auction Transition Scheduling Plan

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule, request for comment.

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SUMMARY: This document seeks comment on the proposal set forth by the 
Media Bureau, in consultation with the Incentive Auction Task Force, 
the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, and the Office of Engineering 
and Technology, for developing a post-incentive auction transition 
scheduling plan. In preparing their submissions commenters should be 
mindful of the Commission's prohibited communications rule, which 
prohibits broadcasters and forward auction applicants from 
communicating any incentive auction applicant's bids or bidding 
strategies to other parties covered by the relevant rules.

DATES: Comments due on or before October 31, 2016 and reply comments 
due on or before November 15, 2016.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Evan Morris, Video Division, Media 
Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, (202) 418-1656 or Erin 
Griffith, Incentive Auction Task Force, Federal Communications 
Commission, (202) 418-2957.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by GN Docket No. 12-268 
and MB Docket No. 16-306, by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Federal Communications Commission's Web site: https://www.fcc.gov/. Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/.
     Paper Filers: Filings can be sent by hand or messenger 
delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or 
overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to 
the Commission's Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal 
Communications Commission. All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered 
paper filings for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC 
Headquarters at 445 12th St. SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. 
The filing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be 
held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes 
must be disposed of before entering the building. Commercial overnight 
mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) 
must be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743. 
U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be 
addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington DC 20554.
     People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request 
reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language 
interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: fcc504@fcc.gov or phone: 202-418-
0530 or TTY: 202-418-0432.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's 
document, DA 16-1095, in GN Docket No. 12-268 and MB Docket No. 16-306; 
released on September 30, 2016. The full text of this document, as well 
as all omitted Illustrations, Figures and Tables are available on the 
Internet at the Commission's Web site at: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2016/db1003/DA-16-1095A1.pdf; https://www.fcc.gov/wireless/auction-1001 and selecting the ``Documents'' tab; 
or by using the search function for GN Docket No. 12-268, MB Docket No. 
16-306 on the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) Web 
page at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/. The full text is also available 
for public inspection and copying from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern 
Time (ET) Monday through Thursday or from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET on 
Fridays in the FCC Reference Information Center, 445 12th Street SW., 
Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554 (telephone: 202-418-0270, TTY: 202-
418-2555).

Synopsis

    In the Incentive Auction Report and Order (IA R&O), 79 FR 48441, 
August 15, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission or 
FCC) delegated authority to the Media Bureau (the Bureau) to establish 
construction deadlines within the 39-month post-auction transition 
period for television stations that are assigned to new channels in the 
incentive auction repacking process. In delegating authority to the 
Bureau to establish construction deadlines within the transition 
period, the FCC directed the Bureau to tailor the deadlines to 
stations' individual circumstances. The Commission also determined that 
a phased construction schedule would facilitate efficient use of the 
resources necessary to complete the transition. In the IA R&O the FCC 
also directed the Bureau to account for ``the needs of forward auction 
winners and their construction plans.''
    Based on the record to date and on staff analysis and computer 
modeling, the Bureau is developing a plan to create a phased transition 
schedule for broadcasters that are reassigned to a new channel in the 
repacking. Under this phased approach, stations will be assigned to one 
of 10 ``transition phases'' with sequential testing periods and 
deadlines, or ``phase completion dates.'' The phase completion date 
will be the date listed in each station's construction permit as its 
construction deadline and will be the last day that a station may 
operate on its pre-auction channel. A station ``must cease

[[Page 73045]]

operating on [its] pre-auction channel once [that] station begins 
operating on its post-auction channel or by the deadline specified in 
its construction permit for its post-auction channel, whichever occurs 
earlier.'' 47 CFR 73.3700(b)(4)(iii). We interpret ``begin operating'' 
to mean when the station begins providing a broadcast television 
service to the public on its post-auction channel, not simply testing 
equipment on that channel. We believe a phased approach will smooth the 
way for station coordination, promote efficient allocation of limited 
resources, limit the impact of the transition on consumers, and 
facilitate FCC monitoring to determine whether schedule adjustments are 
necessary during the course of the transition process. The proposed 
approach is also designed to provide information to stations, vendors, 
and other industry participants in a way that will allow them to plan 
for and respect the obligations and resource requirements of stations 
that are assigned to earlier phases. This approach will take into 
account our international obligations and the agreement to undertake in 
a joint repacking with Canada.
    We seek comment on the proposed approach and the methodology 
described in Appendix A of the Public Notice for establishing a 
transition schedule, as well as the alternative constraints we present 
therein. Based on the development of the record and staff analysis, the 
Bureau will adopt a post-auction transition scheduling plan that will 
be used to create a phased transition and assign stations individual 
construction permit deadlines.
    Post-Auction Transition Scheduling Process. The initial steps of 
the post-auction transition scheduling process will occur before the 
incentive auction closes. Once the final stage rule has been satisfied, 
no additional stages of the auction will be required. Therefore, as 
soon as the final stage rule is satisfied, the final television channel 
assignment plan will be determined. The Bureau will use the final 
channel assignments to establish a phased transition schedule for 
relocated stations and stations that voluntarily moved to a different 
band as part of the auction. We propose that the schedule be 
established using the methodology described in this Public Notice and 
Appendix A. We anticipate that the Bureau will be able to determine the 
final channel assignment plan and the phase assignments prior to the 
conclusion of the forward auction. Therefore, because we recognize the 
importance of providing broadcasters with as much time as possible to 
prepare for the transition, we intend to send each eligible station 
that will remain on the air after the auction a confidential letter 
identifying the station's post-auction channel assignment, technical 
parameters, and assigned transition phase. If a station is not 
reassigned to a new post-auction channel, its confidential letter will 
list the station's pre-auction channel and technical parameters.
    Once the forward auction concludes, we will release the Auction 
Closing and Channel Reassignment PN (Closing and Reassignment PN), 
which will announce that the reverse and forward auctions have ended 
and specify the effective date of the post-auction repacking. The 
information provided in the confidential letter will be subject to 
change in the Closing and Reassignment PN, we do not anticipate 
significant changes. Among other things, the Closing and Reassignment 
PN will announce the post-auction channel assignment and technical 
parameters of every station eligible for protection in the repacking 
process that will remain on the air after the incentive auction. The 
Closing and Reassignment PN will also announce the transition phase, 
phase completion date, and testing period for each reassigned station. 
Stations reassigned to new channels will have three months from the 
Closing and Reassignment PN release date to file construction permit 
applications proposing modified facilities to operate on their post-
auction channel facility specified in the Closing and Reassignment PN. 
See 47 CFR 73.3700(b)(1)(i)-(iii), (vi), (iv)(A). The Bureau will then 
issue each station a construction permit. The construction permit 
deadline will be the phase completion date for that station. Stations 
will be required to abide by the deadlines and requirements of the 
transition scheduling plan. A station that does not comply with the 
requirements of the plan may be subject to sanction or other action, as 
permitted under the Commission's rules. See, e.g., 47 CFR 1.80; 47 CFR 
73.3598(e).
    As illustrated below, the transition phases will all begin at the 
same time but will have sequential phase completion dates. Each phase 
will have a defined ``testing period'' that ends on the phase 
completion date. While stations may engage in planning and construction 
activities at any time prior to their phase completion date, equipment 
testing on post-auction channels will be confined to the specified 
testing periods in order to minimize interference and facilitate 
coordination. Other than for the first phase, the testing period will 
begin on the day after the phase completion date for the prior phase. 
The proposed plan is premised on the likelihood that winning go off-air 
bidders have ceased operations on their pre-auction channels prior to 
the first transition phase testing period, either because they have 
relinquished their license and gone off air, or because they have 
implemented a channel sharing arrangement and are now operating on the 
shared channel.
    Whether a station needs to coordinate with other stations during 
the testing period will depend on whether it is part of a ``linked-
station set,'' that is, a set of two or more stations assigned to the 
same phase with interference relationships or ``dependencies.'' Section 
II of Appendix A describes dependencies in detail. Stations that are 
not part of a linked-station set may operate on their pre-auction 
channels and test on their post-auction channels during the testing 
period without the need for coordination. Conversely, stations that are 
part of a linked-station set must coordinate testing with other 
stations in the set so as to avoid undue interference and must 
transition to their post-auction channels simultaneously. In order to 
facilitate coordination, linked-station sets will be identified in the 
Closing and Reassignment PN. The graph below illustrates a hypothetical 
phased transition schedule under the Bureau's proposed approach. The 
relatively longer test period for stations in phase 2 is a result of 
the fact that this is the first phase in which ``complicated'' stations 
can be assigned. Thus, it is likely that there will always be a longer 
test period for stations. [Illustration Omitted]
    Phase Assignment and Scheduling Tools. The Bureau proposes to use 
two computer-based tools to establish a phased transition schedule. 
Consistent with the Commission's direction, we believe that these two 
tools will allow the Bureau to establish a transition schedule that 
takes into account the complexity of stations' individual 
circumstances, allocates resources fairly, and balances forward auction 
winners' needs with those of transitioning broadcasters. The first tool 
is the Phase Assignment Tool, which will assign television stations to 
transition phases. The Phase Assignment Tool is intended to group 
stations together in a way that will support an orderly, managed 
transition process based on a set of enumerated constraints and 
objectives. The second tool is the Phase Scheduling Tool, which will 
estimate the time required for stations in each phase to complete the 
tasks required to transition in light of resource availability. The 
Bureau will

[[Page 73046]]

use the Phase Scheduling Tool to guide it in establishing phase 
completion dates for each phase. [Illustration Omitted].
    We propose to use mathematical optimization techniques in the Phase 
Assignment Tool to assign stations to transition phases based on a 
defined set of constraints and objectives. We propose specific 
constraints and objectives, including the priority of the objectives, 
in Appendix A. We believe that the constraints and objectives proposed 
will result in a solution that minimizes dependencies created by 
interference issues, ensures that the 600 MHz Band is cleared as 
expeditiously as possible, clusters groups of stations into the same 
phase to help manage scarce transition resources, and minimizes the 
impact of the transition on consumers.
    After stations are assigned to phases, the Bureau proposes to use 
the Phase Scheduling Tool to help determine the phase completion date 
for each phase. By modeling the tasks required to complete the 
transition, and accounting for limited resources, this Tool estimates 
the total time necessary for stations within a phase to complete the 
transition process.
    The Phase Scheduling Tool accounts for limited resources by 
constraining the amount of such resources available to stations within 
a phase at any given time. If a required resource is unavailable, the 
stations will obtain access to the required resource according to their 
``simulation order,'' and the Tool will estimate the time required for 
all stations to complete the transition phase based on that order. The 
Bureau proposes to run the Phase Scheduling Tool with different 
simulation orders to produce a range of estimated times for each 
transition phase. By generating results for multiple simulation orders, 
the Tool produces a range of estimated completion times for each phase. 
The Bureau will use the resulting range of estimated times to guide its 
determination of a phase completion date for each transition phase.
    Appendix A details the specific tasks or processes that we propose 
to model in the Phase Scheduling Tool for each stage of the transition 
process, as well as the estimated time and resource availability for 
each task. The proposed estimates are based on information from the 
Widelity Report, submissions from stakeholders, and informational 
discussions with tower crew companies, antenna and transmitter 
manufacturers, and broadcasters. We believe that the proposed estimates 
are conservative and reasonable.
    Other Issues. Before transitioning to their post-auction channels, 
stations ideally should be able to test equipment on their new 
channels. During the transition, however, many stations would likely 
cause undue interference to one another if they test or operate on 
their post-auction channels without first coordinating with large 
numbers of other stations to avoid causing such interference. Appendix 
A sets forth in detail the results of the staff's analysis and modeling 
of transition-related interference relationships between stations.
    The Commission has in the past allowed temporary increases in 
interference to broadcasters in order to facilitate transitions to new 
services. For example, the Commission permitted new wireless licensees 
in the 700 MHz Band to cause temporary increases of up to 1.5 percent 
interference to broadcasters. Qualcomm Order 21 FCC Rcd 11683 (2006). 
In doing so, the Commission balanced ``the public interest benefits of 
an accelerated deployment in the 700 MHz Band against the importance of 
sustaining a minimally disruptive transition to DTV for consumers'' and 
emphasized that it has a ``forward-looking preference toward those 
services that are the end-points'' of the transition. Qualcomm Order 21 
FCC Rcd at 11697, para. 31. In addition, the Commission permitted 
three-way band clearing agreements that could result in up to two 
percent temporary interference to the population served of stations 
that were not parties to the agreement. See Upper 700 MHz Band 3rd R&O, 
66 FR 10204, February 14, 2001; Upper 700 MHz Band Recon Order, 66 FR 
51594, October 10, 2001. The Commission rejected broadcasters' 
arguments that the two percent standard was inappropriate because the 
interference permitted would be for the benefit of new wireless 
licensees and not broadcasters' efforts to transition to DTV, 
explaining that clearing the 700 MHz band was an integral part of the 
DTV transition.
    The staff's analysis indicates that allowing temporary pairwise 
interference increases above the 0.5 percent authorized by the rules 
governing permanent interference, 47 CFR 73.616(e), is likely to 
significantly reduce inter-dependencies between stations, thereby 
reducing the amount of coordination needed to allow testing of a 
station's post-auction facility. During the post-auction transition the 
percentage of increased pairwise interference is relative to a 
station's pre-auction baseline interference-free population. We propose 
during the transition to allow temporary pairwise interference 
increases of up to two percent, which we believe will produce 
substantial benefits without undue disruption to television service 
during this limited period. Pairwise interference increases beyond the 
0.5 percent permitted by the Commission's rules will not be permitted 
past conclusion of the post-auction transition period. Temporary 
pairwise interference increases of up to 2 percent could occur at any 
time during the transition on either a station's pre-auction and post-
auction channels. It could affect both reassigned stations and those 
that will remain on their pre-auction channels.
    Another means of reducing the size or number of linked-station 
sets, and facilitating a station's ability to operate on its pre-
auction channel while testing on its post-auction channel, would be to 
assign some stations to temporary channels during the transition. A 
station assigned to a temporary channel would have to transition twice: 
Once to its temporary channel and then to its post-auction channel 
during a later transition phase. We do not propose to assign temporary 
channels as part of the phased transition scheduling plan. We 
tentatively conclude that the benefits of using temporary channels are 
not great enough to warrant their use in light of the potential 
burdens. For example, using temporary channels would require stations 
to move twice, which may confuse viewers. Stations would also need to 
acquire additional equipment, which would place additional demands on 
resources and increase overall transition costs. Nevertheless, we 
invite comment on using temporary channel assignments and on issues 
that would be raised if we were to do so. Whether we ultimately decide 
to use temporary channels as part of the phased transition scheduling 
plan depends on how the record develops and whether we adopt other, 
effective means of reducing the number and size of linked-station sets.
    Should we decide to use temporary channel assignments, we 
tentatively conclude that temporary channels may be assigned to full 
power or Class A stations and may be located anywhere in the post-
auction VHF or UHF television bands, as well as in the new 600 MHz 
wireless band. Temporary channel assignments would replicate pre-
auction coverage area and population served and would be listed in the 
Closing and Reassignment PN along with ultimate post-auction channel 
assignments. A station would only be assigned a temporary channel 
within its post-auction band. We propose to limit such assignments to 
stations in complex ``cycles'' of inter-

[[Page 73047]]

dependency, which are discussed in detail in Appendix A. We also 
propose to limit such assignments to channels that are close to a 
stations' ultimate channel assignments, and to relatively low power 
stations (e.g., Class A stations or other stations similar in power), 
in order to limit the associated burdens and costs. Because we 
anticipate that stations would need to commence operations on temporary 
facilities early in the transition, we propose to require that stations 
assigned to temporary channels apply for special temporary authority 
(STA) within 90-days of the release of the Closing and Reassignment PN. 
A licensee that is assigned a temporary channel must comply with all 
filing and notification requirements, construction schedules, and all 
other post-auction deadlines that would apply to construction of the 
station's ultimate post-auction facility. We do not believe that 
requiring broadcasters to license their temporary channel facilities is 
appropriate in light of the temporary nature of the operations.
    If we decide to use temporary channel assignments, we tentatively 
conclude that stations will have must-carry rights on their temporary 
channels. We believe the statute may reasonably be interpreted to 
extend such rights. Section 614 of the Communications Act of 1934, as 
amended, defines an eligible full-power television station entitled to 
must-carry as one that is ``licensed and operating on a channel 
regularly assigned to its community by the Commission that, with 
respect to a particular cable system, is within the same television 
market as the cable system.'' Consistent with the broad definition of 
``license'' in section 153 of the Act, we believe the term ``licensed'' 
in this context may be interpreted to include an STA. We also believe 
that the term ``channel regularly assigned to [the station's] community 
by the Commission'' in this context may be interpreted to encompass a 
temporary channel assignment. While this language could be read to 
refer to a channel allotted to a particular community in the DTV Table 
of Allotments (DTV Table), the FCC has explained that it ``will not use 
a codified Table of Allotments or rulemaking procedures to implement 
post-auction channel changes.'' IA R&O 79 FR at 48491. During the post-
auction transition period, therefore, temporary or permanent channels 
will be ``regularly assigned'' to communities on a case-by-case basis 
in response to applications rather than by amending the DTV Table. 
Further, as a practical matter, channels assigned on a temporary basis 
would enable stations to serve the same coverage area and population as 
they did on their pre-auction channels, meaning that the stations will 
continue to serve the same communities of license set forth in the 
Table as they did before the auction.
    We do not believe that MVPDs would be unduly burdened by extending 
must-carry rights to stations on temporary channels. MVPDs are eligible 
for reimbursement when they ``reasonably incur costs in order to 
continue to carry broadcast stations that are reassigned as a result of 
the auction.'' IA R&O 79 FR at 48497. Such costs include the reasonable 
costs to set up delivery of a signal that the MVPD is required to carry 
under the Commission's must-carry rules or under retransmission consent 
contracts. Under this standard, MVPDs likewise would be eligible for 
reimbursement of all eligible costs in order to continue to carry a 
reassigned station operating on a temporary channel. Finally, we 
believe that extending must-carry rights to a station's temporary 
facility will further the important interests Congress sought to 
advance through the must-carry provisions, specifically ``preserving 
the benefits of free, over-the-air local broadcast television and 
promoting the widespread dissemination of information from a 
multiplicity of sources.'' Carriage of Digital Television Broadcast 
Signals: Amendments to Part 76 of the Commission's Rules, 70 FR 14412, 
14418, para. 35, March 22, 2005.
    If we decide to use temporary channel assignments, we propose that 
any temporary channel assignments in the 600 MHz Band would be subject 
to the inter-service interference (ISIX) protections adopted in the 
ISIX Third Report and Order, 80 FR 71731, 71736-37, November 17, 2015, 
as well as the other interference protections provided for in our rules 
and any temporary pairwise interference adopted for the post-auction 
transition. Although STA operations are not protected against 
interference under our normal rules, we believe that the public 
interest would be served by extending the same protections to temporary 
channels that would apply to any licensed facility during the post-
auction transition. In addition, a full power or Class A station 
operating on a temporary channel could displace a low power television 
(LPTV) station. Consistent with the Commission's previous 
interpretation, section 336(f)(7)(B) of the Act would not apply to 
temporary channel assignments for Class A stations for purposes of the 
post-auction transition because these temporary channels will be 
assigned by the Commission, not proposed by Class A licensees. See IA 
R&O 79 FR at 48463; 47 U.S.C. 336(f)(7)(B). We propose that an 
operating LPTV station displaced by a temporary channel assignment 
could file for a new channel during the post-auction LPTV displacement 
window. Alternatively, displaced LPTV stations could go silent or seek 
temporary authorization to operate its facility at variance from its 
authorized parameters in order to prevent interference. Depending on 
the station's proximity to Mexico or Canada, coordination approval may 
be required from that particular country.
    The Commission anticipated the possibility of using temporary 
channels to facilitate the transition and stated that the reasonably 
incurred costs of equipment needed to move to temporary channels are 
eligible for reimbursement. IA R&O 79 FR at 48501. Thus, such costs 
would be eligible for reimbursement in the same manner as costs related 
to construction of permanent post-auction channel facilities. As 
discussed above, MVPDs likewise should be eligible for reimbursement of 
all eligible costs in order to continue to carry a reassigned station 
operating on a temporary channel.
    As explained above, the Closing and Reassignment PN will announce 
the transition phase, phase completion date, and testing period for 
each reassigned station. We recognize that individual stations may wish 
to raise concerns regarding their particular phase assignments, phase 
completion dates, and/or testing periods once the Closing and 
Reassignment PN is released. In considering any such concerns, we must 
be mindful of the potential impact of requests for changes or 
adjustments on other stations and on the overall phased transition 
schedule. While we tentatively conclude that we will rely on existing 
rules and procedures to address any such concerns, we also seek comment 
on whether to establish an alternative process. If we take the former 
approach and allow stations to challenge the PN as it impacts them, 
should we waive any rules or procedures in order to facilitate the 
transition?
    We recognize that some stations may seek to construct an expanded 
facility or alternate channel that differs from the technical 
parameters assigned in the Closing and Reassignment PN. Further, during 
the transition period some stations may request extensions of their 
construction deadlines and may seek authority to continue operating on 
their pre-auction channel after their phase completion date. While a 
station may

[[Page 73048]]

request an extension of its construction permit deadline as set forth 
in 47 CFR 73.3700(b)(5), grant of such a request only permits the 
station additional time to complete its construction on its final 
channel and does not permit a station to continue operating on its pre-
auction channel. In order to do so a licensee must request special 
temporary authority (STA). In evaluating any such requests, we propose 
to examine the impact that grant of the request would have on the 
phased transition schedule; for example, by evaluating whether such 
modification may create new or affect existing dependencies (i.e., 
daisy chains or cycles). Any requests for expanded facilities or 
alternate channels by stations in the border regions with Mexico or 
Canada will require coordination approval from the country in question. 
The Bureau will view favorably requests that are otherwise compliant 
with our rules and have little or no impact on the phase assignments or 
transition schedule. If an application for an alternate channel or 
expanded facilities is granted, the initial deadline listed in the 
construction permit for the alternate channel or expanded facilities 
will be the same as the deadline in the station's initial construction 
permit. Thus, any station requesting an expanded facility or alternate 
channel will be required to abide by the construction deadline and 
other transition schedule requirements applicable to the phase to which 
the station is assigned unless otherwise modified by the Bureau. Any 
request that the staff determines would be likely to delay or disrupt 
the transition, such as by causing pairwise interference above two 
percent to another station, creating additional linked-station sets, 
necessitating another station move to a different transition phase, or 
that is likely to cause a drain on limited transition resources 
required by other stations, will be viewed unfavorably. The Bureau will 
view requests that have such adverse effects on the transition schedule 
more favorably if the requesting station demonstrates that it has the 
approval of all the stations that would be affected if the request were 
granted, or it agrees to take steps during the transition period to 
mitigate the impact of the proposed request--such as by accepting 
additional levels of temporarily increased interference or operating at 
variance from its pre-auction licensed parameters (i.e., operating with 
reduced facilities). After evaluation, the Bureau may choose to modify 
transition phase assignments and construction deadlines to enable grant 
of a request. If the Bureau determines that granting a particular 
request would not cause adverse effects on the transition schedule, or 
that granting a request would be beneficial to the transition plan, the 
Bureau may adjust the phase assignment of the requesting station, or if 
necessary, other stations as well. However, we propose that no station 
will be assigned to an earlier transition phase than it was originally 
assigned to without its consent. To the extent that the Bureau denies a 
request for a station to continue operating on its pre-auction channel 
past its phase completion date, the Bureau will work with the impacted 
licensee to remain on-air while construction of its post-auction 
facility is completed. Each circumstance will be evaluated on a case-by 
case basis.
    Commenters should be mindful that Commission rules prohibit 
broadcasters and forward auction applicants from communicating any 
incentive auction applicant's bids or bidding strategies to other 
parties covered by the relevant rules. See 47 CFR 1.2205(b)(1), (c)(1), 
(c)(6)(ii). The relevant prohibitions will apply prior to, during, and 
after the period for comment. The prohibition covers related parties, 
as well as covered broadcast licensees and forward auction applicants. 
47 CFR 1.2205(a)(1) and 1.2105(c)(5)(i).
    We previously have cautioned that statements to the public may 
create a risk of prohibited communications when the public statement 
should be expected to result in a communication that violates the rule. 
Accordingly, comments submitted to the Commission may violate one of 
the prohibitions even though not made directly to another party covered 
by the rule. Moreover, a communication that does not explicitly state a 
bid or bidding strategy but conveys information that leaves little 
doubt about an incentive auction applicant's bids and bidding 
strategies may violate the rule regardless of the communicating party's 
intent.
    A covered party may also violate the prohibition any time it 
conveys information that might communicate known past or future bids or 
bidding strategies of any other covered party. Information regarding 
past, as well as future, bids and bidding strategies is covered by the 
prohibitions. Furthermore, the prohibitions apply to more than a 
party's desired auction outcome and steps the party has taken or will 
take to achieve it. The fact that a party is not communicating its own 
bids or bidding strategies, or is communicating only the irrevocable 
results of another's bids or bidding strategies, will not preclude the 
statements from violating the prohibition. For example, a broadcaster 
that is not participating in the auction may not communicate that a 
prospective channel sharing partner no longer will need to share with 
it because it has exited the auction. Similarly, a forward auction 
applicant whose initial eligibility has decreased may not communicate 
that it has foregone prior plans to pursue particular markets due to 
reduced eligibility.
    These prohibitions should not, however, preclude any party from 
addressing relevant issues regarding the post-auction transition. Until 
the final stage rule is met, all broadcasters reasonably might be 
expected to plan for a potential relocation to a new channel in their 
pre-auction band, regardless of participation in the reverse auction or 
current bidding status. Statements of general applicability, not 
related to a particular broadcaster's circumstances or a forward 
auction applicant's plans, generally should not disclose any incentive 
auction applicant's bids or bidding strategies. Furthermore, given that 
public statements regarding whether or not a broadcaster applied to 
participate in the incentive auction are not deemed to violate the 
rule, a broadcaster that has disclosed that it did not apply to 
participate will not disclose bids or bidding strategies by discussing 
the details of its own transition. For reasons already discussed, such 
a broadcaster that may share its post-auction channel with an auction 
participant must, however, exercise caution to avoid disclosing the 
bids or bidding strategies of its prospective channel partner. This is 
true with respect to statements regarding the technical 
interdependencies to be considered by the Phase Assignment Tool or the 
resource constraints relevant to the Phase Scheduling Tool, even if the 
statements might be applicable to the station's individual transition 
as well. A party's statements of general applicability will not violate 
the prohibition solely because they are consistent with its bids or 
bidding strategy. Rather, to be prohibited, statements must communicate 
bids or bidding strategies, either directly or by leaving little doubt 
regarding what they are, regardless of the lack of a direct statement.
    Administrative Matters. The proceeding shall be treated as a 
``permit-but-disclose'' proceeding in accordance with the Commission's 
ex parte rules. See 47 CFR 1.1200 et seq. Persons making ex parte 
presentations must file a copy of any written presentation or a 
memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within two business days 
after the presentation (unless a different

[[Page 73049]]

deadline applicable to the Sunshine period applies). Persons making 
oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda summarizing the 
presentation must (1) list all persons attending or otherwise 
participating in the meeting at which the ex parte presentation was 
made, and (2) summarize all data presented and arguments made during 
the presentation. If the presentation consisted in whole or in part of 
the presentation of data or arguments already reflected in the 
presenter's written comments, memoranda or other filings in the 
proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to such data or 
arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or other filings 
(specifying the relevant page and/or paragraph numbers where such data 
or arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them in the 
memorandum. Documents shown or given to Commission staff during ex 
parte meetings are deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must 
be filed consistent with section 1.1206(b) of the rules. In proceedings 
governed by section 1.49(f) of the rules or for which the Commission 
has made available a method of electronic filing, written ex parte 
presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations, 
and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the electronic 
comment filing system available for that proceeding, and must be filed 
in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable.pdf). 
Participants in this proceeding should familiarize themselves with the 
Commission's ex parte rules.
    This document does not contain proposed information collection(s) 
subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. In 
addition, therefore, it does not contain any new or modified 
information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer 
than 25 employees, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act 
of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).
    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA), requires 
that a regulatory flexibility analysis be prepared for notice and 
comment rule making proceedings, unless the agency certifies that ``the 
rule will not, if promulgated, have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities.'' See 5 U.S.C. 603. The RFA, see 
5 U.S.C. 601 through 612, has been amended by the Small Business 
Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, Public Law 104-121, Title 
II, 110 Stat. 857 (1996). The RFA generally defines the term ``small 
entity'' as having the same meaning as the terms ``small business,'' 
``small organization,'' and ``small governmental jurisdiction.'' In 
addition, the term ``small business'' has the same meaning as the term 
``small business concern'' under the Small Business Act. A ``small 
business concern'' is one which: (1) Is independently owned and 
operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) 
satisfies any additional criteria established by the Small Business 
Administration (SBA). Written public comments are requested on the 
IFRA, and must be filed in accordance with the same filing deadlines as 
comments on the Public Notice, with a distinct heading designating them 
as responses to the IRFA. With respect to the Public Notice, an Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) under the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act is contained in Appendix B of the document.

Appendix A--Phase Assignment and Scheduling Tools

    Appendix A sets forth a proposed methodology for assigning 
construction deadlines to stations based on the staff's analysis and 
the record developed to date. Potential ``dependencies,'' or 
interference relationships, between certain television stations on 
pre-auction and post-auction channels will impact the transition 
process. As the Commission recognized, stations with dependencies 
must coordinate in order to test equipment or begin operating on 
their new channels without causing interference. Coordination may 
involve stations agreeing to operate at lower power or accept 
increased interference for short periods of time while the stations 
involved are performing tests. Dependencies can involve numerous 
and/or distant stations, however, making successful coordination 
extremely challenging. The FCC staff has analyzed these dependencies 
to develop a means of breaking them in order to reduce the need for 
coordination and to make remaining coordination more manageable. 
These possible solutions that were considered include assigning 
stations to separate ``transition phases,'' allowing temporary 
interference increases, and assigning stations to temporary 
channels.
    Under this proposal, stations would be assigned to a limited 
number of transition phases. The phases will begin at the same time, 
but have sequential end dates. Equipment testing on post-auction 
channels will be confined to set ``testing periods.'' With the 
exception of the first phase, the testing period for subsequent 
phases will begin on the day after the end of the preceding phase. 
Every station must cease operating on its pre-auction channel at the 
end of its assigned phase, also known as the ``phase completion 
date.''
    The proposed methodology would utilize two computer-based tools 
to assign stations to phases and establish phase completion dates 
for each phase. First, stations would be assigned to phases using 
the Phase Assignment Tool, which applies optimization techniques to 
identify, among solutions that satisfy a set of defined rules or 
constraints, a solution that best meets a separate set of defined 
objectives. After stations are assigned to phases, the Phase 
Scheduling Tool would be used to help determine the phase completion 
date for each phase.
    With the information provided in this Appendix, interested 
parties will have sufficient information to replicate the 
methodology proposed for determining the overall transition 
schedule. The Phase Assignment Tool implements the objectives and 
constraints described in this Appendix using commercially-available 
optimization software. The Phase Scheduling Tool leverages an open 
source discrete event simulation software package using inputs 
described in detail in this Appendix. The data presented in this 
Appendix is the output of applying this methodology to 
representative final television channel assignment plans for 114 MHz 
and 84 MHz spectrum clearing scenario and also making certain 
assumptions regarding Canada and Mexico based on ongoing 
coordination with those countries. As used herein, 
``representative'' means consistent with the plans generated by the 
Commission's Final Television Channel Assignment Plan determination 
procedure based on numerous auction simulations conducted by the 
staff. The clearing target for Stage 2 of the auction has now been 
set at 114 MHz. We therefore are using 84 MHz and 114 MHz as 
representative examples. We note that we do not anticipate publicly 
releasing these plans or the underlying simulations, consistent with 
our practice in this proceeding of releasing such information as 
appropriate in the interest of transparency and in consideration of 
the ongoing, internal deliberations regarding it, as well as 
broadcasters' confidentiality interests in reverse auction 
participation. Interested parties can create their own television 
channel assignment plans for any spectrum clearing scenario by 
applying the Assignment Plan determination procedure to auction 
simulations based on their own assumptions of likely outcomes.
    Section II: Dependencies and Means of Breaking Them. Before 
transitioning to their post-auction channels, stations ideally 
should be able to test equipment on their new channels. During the 
transition, however, there is a potential for undue interference 
between stations that are still operating on their pre-auction 
channels and stations testing or operating on their post-auction 
channels. The Commission's rules governing interference between 
stations before and after the post-auction transition will prevent 
undue interference between stations operating on their pre-auction 
channels and between stations operating on their post-auction 
channels, respectively. In developing a proposed transition plan, 
the staff has sought to avoid undue interference while providing as 
much flexibility as possible for stations to test equipment prior to 
commencing operations on their new channels. The staff's 
``Precedence Daisy-Chain Graph'' explicitly captures any 
interference that may occur between stations operating on their pre-
auction and post-auction channels.

[[Page 73050]]

    The Graph is constructed as follows: Nodes are stations and a 
directed arc connects two nodes (say s and s') when station s cannot 
transition until station s' has transitioned to its post-auction 
channel because the current channel of station s' interferes with 
the future channel of station s. This relationship is called a 
dependency.

    Example 1:  Dependency. [Illustration Omitted]. Suppose Station 
A and Station B have co- and adjacent-channel interference 
restrictions on all channels. Station A is reassigned from channel 
25 to channel 18. Station B is reassigned from channel 45 to channel 
26. Station A must vacate channel 25 before Station B can move to 
channel 26 so that neither station will experience undue 
interference. Therefore, the graph includes a directed arc from 
Station A to Station B since Station A must transition before 
Station B (Station B is dependent on Station A in order to 
transition).
    Example 2:  Daisy-Chain. [Illustration Omitted]. Multiple 
dependencies can be connected, forming a daisy-chain. Example 2 
illustrates a daisy chain of 4 stations. Station A must transition 
before Station B. Station B must transition before Station C. And 
Station C must transition before Station D. Thus, Stations A, B, and 
C all must transition before Station D can transition.
    Daisy-chains can involve numerous stations and multiple 
transition dependencies. Figure 1 below illustrates a single daisy-
chain involving 29 stations in the Northeast in a simulated outcome 
where the Commission repurposes 84 MHz of broadcast spectrum through 
the incentive auction. [Figure 1 Omitted]
    Successful coordination to avoid undue interference among the 
stations illustrated in Figure 1 is likely to be extremely 
challenging, given the number of stations involved and their 
distance from one another. In order to reduce or eliminate the need 
for coordination, the chain could be broken by assigning stations to 
transition during different time periods or phases. At least 29 
separate transition phases would be needed to break the chain 
completely so that every station in the chain could transition 
without the need for coordination. A large number of transition 
phases may undercut other potential transition goals, however, such 
as transitioning stations within the same region at the same time 
and avoiding the need for multiple channel rescans by viewers. In 
order to balance these goals, a certain number of stations within a 
daisy chain may be assigned to the same transition phase, thereby 
``collapsing'' the daisy chain into a more manageable size. For 
example, the first five or ten stations in the 29-station daisy 
chain illustrated above could be assigned to the first transition 
phase. Each station in this collapsed daisy chain would have to 
coordinate with one or more of the other stations in the chain in 
order to test their equipment without undue interference. Moreover, 
as illustrated by Example 3 below, the staff's analysis indicates 
that certain dependencies, known as ``cycles,'' cannot be broken by 
assigning stations to different transition phases.
    Example 3:  Cycle. [Illustration Omitted]. Example 3 shows a 
cycle consisting of three stations. Station A needs to transition 
from channel 20 to channel 17; while Station B needs to transition 
from channel 28 to channel 20; while Station C needs to transition 
from channel 17 to channel 28. Because all three stations cannot 
operate on either channel 17, channel 20, or channel 28 
simultaneously, they must transition from their pre-auction to their 
post-auction channels simultaneously in order to commence operation 
on their post-auction channel. They must also coordinate in order to 
test equipment on their post-auction channels without causing 
increased interference to one another. In such circumstances, the 
dependencies between stations cannot be broken by assigning stations 
to different transition phases. On the other hand, assigning the 
stations to the same transition phase may facilitate their ability 
to coordinate with one another.
    Cycles of much greater complexity than Example 3 are likely to 
occur during the post-auction transition process. Figure 2 below 
shows another simulated outcome in which the auction repurposes 84 
MHz of broadcast spectrum. The cycle consists of 196 stations and 
reaches from the Southeast region of the United States through the 
Northeast and into Canada. [Figure 2 Omitted].
    The problem becomes more complicated when all dependencies are 
considered. Daisy-chains can intersect and overlap, creating a 
larger and more complicated daisy-chain. A cycle can also be part of 
a daisy-chain. Thus, hundreds of stations may be inter-dependent and 
one station may require tens (or even hundreds) of stations to 
transition first in order to be able to begin operating on its post-
auction channel. Figure 3 below shows another simulated 84 MHz 
outcome with a set of 796 inter-dependent stations. [Figure 3 
Omitted].
    As indicated above, transition phases are a potentially useful 
tool to address dependencies between stations. Stations may be 
assigned to different phases in order to break daisy chains, or to 
the same phase in order to facilitate coordination by stations 
involved in a cycle, or to achieve other goals. We refer to inter-
dependent stations assigned to the same phase as a ``linked-station 
set'' and the individual stations in the linked-station set as 
``linked-stations.''
    Another means of breaking dependencies is to allow temporary, 
limited increases in station-to-station (pairwise) interference that 
exceed the 0.5 percent allowed under the Commission's rules 
governing pre-auction and post-transition interference 
relationships. As discussed in the Public Notice, the Commission has 
previously allowed such temporary increases in pairwise interference 
above the 0.5 percent threshold in order to facilitate spectrum 
transitions. As shown below, the staff's analysis indicates that 
allowing temporary, limited increases in pairwise interference would 
significantly reduce the number of dependencies between stations and 
in turn reduce the size, number, and complexity of daisy chains and 
cycles. Additionally, the staff's analysis indicates that allowing 
temporary, limited increases in pairwise interference would not 
result in significant aggregate interference increases.
    Another means of breaking dependencies would be to assign 
stations in complicated daisy chains or cycles to operate on 
temporary channels prior to transitioning to their post-auction 
channels. Stations assigned to temporary channels would have to 
``move'' twice, first to their temporary channels and then to their 
ultimate post-auction channels. Below we illustrate how temporary 
channel assignments could be used to break large cycles.
    Example 4:  Temporary Channels. [Illustration Omitted]. In 
Example 4, nine stations are part of a complicated cycle and must 
coordinate their testing because no station can broadcast on its 
post-auction channel without causing undue interference with at 
least one other station in the set. However, if two of these 
stations are assigned to temporary channels (Station C and Station 
G), then the cycle is transformed into a collection of daisy chains 
in which stations at the same level of a daisy chain need not 
coordinate with one another in order to test equipment or operate on 
their post-auction channels. Since the longest chain in this example 
has five levels, stations could be assigned to five phases based on 
how far they are (in the dependence graph) from the stations placed 
on temporary channels.
    Section III--The Phase Assignment Tool. Under the proposed 
methodology, stations would be assigned to a limited number of 
transition phases. Every station in a phase must cease operating on 
its pre-auction channel at the end of the phase, i.e., the phase 
completion date. Stations would be assigned to phases using the 
Phase Assignment Tool. This Section discusses the Phase Assignment 
Tool as well as the proposed constraints (i.e., rules by which all 
assignments generated by the proposed tool must abide) and 
objectives (i.e., goals when creating the assignments). We begin by 
proposing specific constraints and objectives, followed by a 
discussion of the results of staff analysis illustrating the 
rationale underlying the proposal and the tradeoffs involved in 
choosing among different constraints and objectives. Proposed 
Constraints and Objectives. Based on the staff's analysis and the 
record developed to date, we propose the following constraints and 
objectives in assigning stations to phases.
    Constraints: (1) A station cannot cause more than two percent 
new interference to another station during the transition. As 
discussed above, we believe that it is important both to avoid undue 
interference during the transition and to provide stations with as 
much flexibility as possible to test equipment on their post-auction 
channels before transitioning. Although stations may be able to 
achieve these goals through coordination, coordination may not be 
feasible in situations involving large-scale and complex 
dependencies among stations. As discussed in more detail in the next 
section, the staff's analysis indicates that allowing temporary, 
limited increases in pairwise interference would reduce the number 
and complexity of dependencies without resulting in significant 
aggregate interference increases. Doing so is also likely to promote 
other potential goals, such as prioritizing the clearing of the 600 
MHz Band

[[Page 73051]]

and reducing the number of channel rescans. Although allowing higher 
levels of temporary interference--up to five percent--would further 
reduce dependencies, our proposal to allow no more than two percent 
represents a compromise between avoiding what the Bureau believes 
would cause undue interference and limiting dependencies. This 
proposal assumes that all winning bidders affecting the first phase 
of the transition who have agreed to go off-air completely, or that 
become a channel sharee of another station with a post-auction 
channel assignment, will have gone dark before the stations in the 
first transition phase begin testing of their equipment (e.g., two 
months before the end of the first transition phase). This 
assumption is reasonable given the expected timeline for paying 
winning stations and the estimated time for the first phase to 
complete.
    (2) No stations in Canada will be assigned to transition before 
the third transition phase and no Canadian stations will be assigned 
to a temporary channel. Due to dependencies between domestic and 
Canadian stations, a joint transition plan with Canada is necessary 
and is being developed by FCC and ISED. In keeping with our informal 
discussions with ISED Canada to date, stations in Canada have 
generally been assigned to later transition phases for this 
proposal. This constraint will promote efficient use of cross-border 
resources and respect the minimum notification periods to Canadian 
TV stations established in ISED's 600 MHz decision.
    (3) There will be no more than 10 transition phases. While 
increasing the number of phases could decrease the number of linked-
station sets in each phase, a large number of phases may undercut 
other transition goals, such as transitioning stations within the 
same region at the same time and avoiding the need for multiple 
channel rescans by viewers. We also believe that limiting the number 
of phases will facilitate monitoring of the transition process. We 
believe that limiting the number of transition phases to 10 strikes 
a reasonable balance between these goals. Canadian stations not 
impeding the transition of U.S. stations may be permitted to 
continue to operate beyond the 10th phase based on rules to be 
established in Canada.
    (4) No U.S. stations will be assigned to temporary channels. 
Although we do not propose to assign stations to temporary channels, 
the attached PN invites comment on whether we should use temporary 
channels. In the event that temporary channels are used to reduce 
dependencies we propose to potentially apply one or more of the 
following additional constraints: (a) Only assign temporary channels 
to stations in complex dependencies. (b) Only assign temporary 
channels to stations that are in close proximity to the stations' 
ultimate post-auction channel assignments. As stated above, 
temporary channel assignments would requires stations to move twice. 
Requiring that the temporary channel be ``close'' to the ultimate 
channel may reduce the burden and expense associated with double 
moves. If such an approach is considered, we seek comment on what 
the definition of ``close'' should be. (c) Only assign temporary 
channels to stations with relatively low power (e.g., Class A 
stations). This constraint could limit the cost of the purchase of 
broadband antennas that would be necessary for stations that must 
move twice. If such an approach is considered, we seek comment on 
what the definition of a ``relatively low power'' should be with 
regard to a Class A or full power station.
    (5) All stations within a DMA will be assigned to no more than 
two different transition phases. While some parties have suggested 
that the Bureau could divide the country into specific regions for 
the transition, it is not possible to create a wholly regionalized 
plan that will respect interference constraints because the 
interference constraints create dependencies that may overlap 
geographic areas. The proposed DMA constraint provides similar 
benefits to those that would come from a purely regional approach. 
For example, taking a station's DMA into account clusters stations 
in a particular geographic area into the same transition phase. 
Doing this will make resource allocation more efficient--for 
instance, tower crews would be able to focus on multiple stations in 
a specific area during a single phase. Additionally, the constraint 
will benefit consumers by limiting the number of rescans the 
consumer will have to complete because of the transition. While this 
constraint potentially increases the number and/or size of linked-
station sets within a transition phase, on balance we believe that 
the benefits to consumers and stations outweighs the burden caused 
by this constraint. Limiting each DMA to a single transition phase 
results in approximately two-thirds of all stations having to 
transition in the same phase, removing the benefits of a phased 
transition approach.
    (6) The difference in the number of stations in the largest 
transition phase and the smallest transition phase will be no more 
than 30 stations. If it is not feasible to assign stations in such a 
way that the difference in the number of stations in the largest 
transition phase and the smallest transition phase is less than or 
equal to 30 stations, then an optimization will be performed 
minimizing the difference between the largest transition phase and 
smallest transition phase, and subsequent optimizations will be 
limited to no more than 1.1 times the number found in this 
optimization. This constraint will attempt to make the number of 
assigned stations in each of the phases somewhat equal, which in 
turn will help manage limited resources by ensuring that they can be 
spread more evenly across the transition phases.
    (7) Every transitioning station will be assigned to one 
transition phase.
    (8) No phase can have more than 125 linked-stations. The 
dependencies created by the interference constraints can affect a 
large number of stations across large geographic areas. This 
constraint will limit the effect of those dependencies and, to the 
extent that coordination is needed, facilitate a manageable 
transition process for broadcasters. Based on staff analysis, we 
believe the proposed 125-station limit strikes a balance between 
minimizing dependencies and other goals. If it is not possible to 
limit the number of linked-stations in a phase to 125, then we 
propose to apply an objective of minimizing the maximum number of 
linked-stations in any phase, and constrain all phases to no more 
than 1.2 times that maximum number.
    (9) No station falling into the ``complicated'' category for 
purposes of the Phase Scheduling Tool can be assigned to Phase 1. 
The goal of this constraint is to allow adequate time to transition 
the most challenging stations and to prevent an early phase 
completion date to be delayed due to the most time consuming 
transitions.
    Objectives: In order to identify a solution that best satisfies 
the Commission's transition goals, we propose to apply the following 
objectives to assignments or ``solutions'' identified by the Phase 
Assignment Tool that satisfy the constraints proposed above. The 
Phase Assignment Tool would prioritize the proposed objectives in 
the sequence listed below. Subsequent objectives would be 
constrained by prior objectives.
    (1) Assign U.S. stations whose pre-auction channels are in the 
600 MHz Band to earlier phases in order to clear the 600 MHz Band as 
quickly as possible, while simultaneously assigning all Canadian 
stations and U.S. stations whose pre-auction channel is in the 
remaining television bands (U.S. TV-band stations) to later phases, 
where possible. This objective would promote a number of goals. It 
would help to clear the 600 MHz Band first in order to open it up to 
wireless licensees to offer new innovative services. It would also 
prevent Canadian and U.S. stations from competing for limited 
resources and provide Canada with the time needed for its 
transition. The Phase Assignment Tool therefore gives weights to 
assignments where there are stations transitioning from the 600 MHz 
Band after transition Phase 8. Similarly, the Phase Assignment Tool 
gives weights to assignments where Canadian stations as well as U.S. 
TV-band stations are assigned to any transition phase earlier than 
Phase 9. The weights for stations not transitioning out of the 600 
MHz Band before Phase 9 is significantly higher than the weights for 
U.S. TV-band stations or Canadian stations transitioning early. We 
propose the following weights to assignments: U.S. stations in the 
600 MHz Band assigned to phase 9 would add a weight of 20; US 
stations in the 600 MHz Band assigned to phase 10 would add a weight 
of 200; US TV-band stations and Canadian stations assigned before 
phase 9 would add a weight of 1. The Phase Assignment Tool minimizes 
the sum of all weights incurred by the phase assignments.
    (2) Minimize the sum, over all DMAs, of the number of times a 
DMA must rescan. This objective benefits consumers by minimizing the 
number of rescans necessary by viewers in a market and creates 
regionalized clusters that will make resource allocation more 
efficient. As in constraint #5 proposed above, the use of DMAs 
attempts to provide similar benefits to those that would flow from a 
purely regional approach.
    (3) Minimize the total number of linked-stations. This proposed 
objective is different than constraint #8 proposed above, in that it 
would minimize the total number of linked-stations throughout all 
phases of the transition. This objective seeks to provide as

[[Page 73052]]

many stations as possible with the ability to test their equipment 
on their post-auction channel while simultaneously broadcasting on 
their pre-auction channel without the need to coordinate.
    (4) Minimizing the difference between the number of stations in 
the largest transition phase and the smallest transition phase. Like 
constraint #6 proposed above, by minimizing this maximum difference, 
this objective attempts to reduce below 30 the maximum difference 
between the number of stations in different phases. We believe that 
evening out the number of stations assigned to each transition phase 
will help manage limited resources by ensuring that they can be 
spread more evenly across the transition phases.
    We seek comment on these proposed constraints and objectives. 
Although the Phase Assignment Tool can enforce any of these 
constraints and objectives, some conflict with others and cannot be 
imposed simultaneously and others will have no impact on the 
solution if placed after a preceding objective.
    The Phase Assignment Tool could also be used during the 
transition to modify phase assignments. We recognize that unforeseen 
events may occur during the transition that may warrant adjustments 
in order to ensure that the transition proceeds in a timely fashion. 
If we decide to use the Phase Assignment Tool during the transition 
to modify phase assignments, we propose to restrict reassignments to 
later transition phases in order to provide certainty to stations 
that any adjustments will not require them to transition earlier 
than their originally scheduled phase completion date.
    Preliminary Results of Staff Analysis- Baseline Results. This 
section presents results from running the Phase Assignment Tool 
using representative final channel assignment plans, for both a 114 
MHz and an 84 MHz spectrum clearing scenario. In each scenario, all 
of the constraints proposed above are satisfied and the proposed 
objectives were applied. We assumed that Canadian stations will be 
jointly transitioning with U.S. stations. All Canadian stations are 
included in the studies. Those stations that will remain on their 
channel but be required to convert to digital are not reflected at 
this time. However, the final joint transition plan and schedule 
will include all analog and digital Canadian stations. We also 
assumed that Mexican stations will have already completed their 
transition to their new channels below channel 37 prior to the end 
of the first phase.
    Figures 4 and 5 below present histograms for the 114 MHz and 84 
MHz cases, respectively, showing the total number of stations that 
transition in each phase and within each phase how many are (a) 
Canadian stations, (b) U.S. stations whose pre-auction channel is in 
the 600 MHz Band and (c) other U.S. stations. The figures show that 
the 600 MHz band is mostly clear of U.S.-based impairments by the 
end of Phase 8. Also, very few Canadian stations are assigned to 
early transition phases. Those Canadian stations that are assigned 
to early transition phases must transition earlier in order to allow 
U.S. stations or other Canadian stations to transition. Table 1 
illustrates the number of stations that are part of linked-station 
sets in each of the two scenarios. [Figure 4, Figure 5, and Table 1 
Omitted].
    Preliminary Results with Modified Constraints. To illustrate the 
reasons underlying the constraints and objectives proposed above, 
this section presents comparable results under an 84 MHz clearing 
target scenario using alternative constraints. We chose to use the 
84 MHz clearing target to illustrate these tradeoffs because the 
results are generally similar to those obtained using higher 
clearing targets. In this 84 MHz scenario the following constraints 
were applied instead of the proposed constraints above: (a) Instead 
of not allowing any temporary channel assignments, a small number of 
temporary channel assignments were allowed; (b) instead of allowing 
temporary pairwise interference increases of up to 2 percent, 
pairwise interference increases were limited to 0.5 percent and, 
conversely, allowed to go up to 5 percent; and (c) instead of 
requiring that all stations in a DMA be assigned to no more than two 
different transition phases, the restriction was tightened to assign 
all stations within a DMA to the same transition phase and, 
conversely, loosened to require that all stations in a DMA be 
assigned to no more than three different transition phases. The 
results of applying these alternative constraints are shown in the 
figures and tables below. We invite comment on whether any of these 
alternative constraints should be adopted.
    Temporary Channel Assignments. Figure 6 below shows the impact 
of allowing 50 temporary channel assignments on the phase size 
distribution. Table 2 shows how allowing a small number of temporary 
channel moves can reduce the size of linked-station sets. The 
results in this table indicate that allowing up to 50 temporary 
channel assignments is likely to significantly reduce the size of 
the largest linked-station set, reduce the number of U.S. stations 
remaining in the 600 MHz Band in Phase 9, and reduce the number of 
DMAs requiring more than one rescan. [Figure 6 and Table 2 Omitted]
    Pairwise Interference. Figures 7 and 8 and Table 3 below show 
the results if (a) only 0.5 pairwise interference increases are 
allowed on a temporary basis during the transition and (b) pairwise 
interference increases up to 5 percent are allowed. Figures 7 and 8 
and Table 3 reflect that, as the amount of temporary pairwise 
interference allowed is increased, more U.S. TV-Band and Canadian 
stations transition in the final two phases, and fewer DMAs require 
more than one rescan. As compared to the 0.5 percent results, the 
higher interference levels substantially reduced the maximum number 
of linked-station sets. [Figure 7, Figure 8, and Table 3 Omitted]
    Staff analysis also indicates that, when pairwise temporary 
interference is allowed to increase, aggregate interference levels 
(calculated consistent with the methodology presented in the 
Aggregate Interference PN) do not exceed the pairwise limits except 
for a few cases. In those few cases, the aggregate interference for 
any one station is never more than double the pairwise limit. Table 
4 shows the results of the staff's analysis. [Table 4 Omitted].
    DMA Restrictions. Requiring that all stations within a DMA be 
assigned to the same transition phase resulted in approximately two 
thirds of all stations being assigned to the same phase. Figure 9 
illustrates this result under an 84 MHz scenario. [Figure 9 
Omitted]. On the other hand, as shown in Figure 10 and Table 5 
below, when stations in the same DMA are allowed to transition in up 
to three different phases, the number of DMAs requiring more than 
one rescan actually decreases compared to the baseline run. This is 
because allowing a few DMAs to be subject to three rescans gives the 
optimization software more flexibility to improve the percentage of 
DMAs that only require one rescan. Loosening this constraint also 
results in more stations moving out of the 600 MHz Band sooner. 
[Figure 10 and Table 5 Omitted].
    Section IV: The Phase Scheduling Tool. After stations are 
assigned to phases by applying the Phase Assignment Tool described 
above, we propose to use the Phase Scheduling Tool to help determine 
the phase completion date for each phase. The Phase Scheduling Tool 
estimates the total time necessary for stations within a phase to 
perform the tasks required to complete the transition process. In 
this section, we discuss the Phase Scheduling Tool and the proposed 
inputs which include the specific tasks required for stations to 
transition and the estimated time required to complete each task.
    The Phase Scheduling Tool models the various processes involved 
in a station transitioning to its post-auction channel. It divides 
these processes into two sequential stages: The ``Pre-Construction 
Stage'' and the ``Construction Stage.'' While separate processes 
within a stage may occur concurrently, such as equipment procurement 
and zoning applications, all processes within the Pre-Construction 
Stage must be complete before the station is ready to move to the 
Construction Stage. For example, in the model, the process of 
installing a new primary antenna cannot occur until after the new 
antenna is manufactured and delivered. A transition phase cannot end 
until all stations in the model assigned to that phase have 
completed both stages and are ready to operate on their post-auction 
channels.
    Some processes require specialized resources that may be in 
limited supply. The Phase Scheduling Tool models these limited 
resources by constraining the amount available at any given time. If 
a station needs a constrained resource to complete a process, and 
the resource is unavailable because other stations are using it, the 
station is placed in a queue until the required resource is 
available. As described in more detail below, the processes within 
each phase are not designed to be a comprehensive listing of every 
task; we have instead separated those processes which need resources 
that are most limited in supply and therefore likely will have the 
biggest impact on scheduling.
    In each Stage, the Phase Scheduling Tool uses two inputs: (1) 
The time it would take for a station to complete the tasks of that 
stage if all resources are available when needed; and (2) the 
estimated availability of

[[Page 73053]]

constrained resources. The Phase Scheduling Tool uses these inputs 
to calculate how long it will take each station within a transition 
phase to complete all work associated with both Stages. The output 
of the Tool is the estimated number of weeks from the start of the 
transition required for all stations assigned to a phase to complete 
all of the necessary transition tasks, test equipment on their post-
auction channels, and be ready to operate on their post-auction 
channels.
    Since it is not possible to know the exact order stations will 
begin each process, the Phase Scheduling Tool uses discrete event 
simulation to model this uncertainty. The Phase Scheduling Tool does 
assume, however, that a station assigned to an earlier phase will 
begin its Pre-Construction Stage processes requiring a constrained 
resource (e.g., ordering an antenna) before a station assigned to a 
later phase. By assigning the station order within a transition 
phase randomly, called the ``simulation order,'' and simulating the 
transition processes, the Phase Scheduling Tool provides a single 
estimate of the time to complete each transition phase. By repeating 
this simulation multiple times with stations in the same phase 
entering the system in a new random simulation order, the Phase 
Scheduling Tool produces a range of completion times for each phase. 
The Bureau intends to use this range in determining appropriate 
phase deadlines given the composition of the individual stations in 
each phase.
    The Phase Scheduling Tool also enables the staff to analyze the 
sensitivity of transition phase time estimates based on changes in 
input data. During the transition, as new information becomes 
available, the Tool can be rerun to assess the potential impact of 
unforeseen developments on the overall schedule.
    The following subsections detail the specific processes or tasks 
that we propose to model for each stage, as well as the estimated 
time and resource availability for each process. The proposed 
estimates are based on data contained in the Widelity Report, 
submissions from stakeholders, and informational discussions with 
tower crew companies, other antenna and transmitter manufacturers, 
and broadcasters. We believe that the proposed estimates are 
conservative and that they reasonably capture each aspect of the 
transition. We invite comment on these proposed inputs. The final 
subsection shows sample outputs of the Phase Scheduling Tool for the 
two baseline Phase Assignment Tool runs set forth in the prior 
section.
    Modeling the Transition Stages. As stated earlier, the 
individual tasks required for a station to complete its transition 
have been grouped into two stages: The Pre-Construction Stage and 
the Construction Stage. In the Pre-Construction Stage, a station 
completes two tasks: Ordering and delivery of the main and auxiliary 
antennas; and administration and planning work, which includes 
zoning, administration, legal, possible structural tower 
improvements, equipment modifications, and other activities. In the 
Construction Stage, a station completes two additional tasks: 
Construction-related work and tower crew work. This process is shown 
in Figure 11 below. [Figure 11 Omitted].
    The Phase Scheduling Tool groups together all tasks within a 
stage that can be done regardless of how many other stations are 
performing similar tasks. However, since there are two constrained 
resources that are dependent on the actions of others (antenna 
deliveries and tower crew availability), these tasks are separated 
out and the model considers how resource availability impacts the 
total completion time for any station in either stage. We note that 
there are many other resources that are not specifically identified 
but are essential to completion of the transition process. Based on 
the staff's analysis and the record developed to date, resources 
such as auxiliary antenna manufacturing, transmitter manufacturing, 
transmission line manufacturing and RF component installers will not 
affect the time required for a station to complete its transition. 
The availability and manufacturing capacity of these resources have 
been identified as being sufficient to fulfill the expected demand 
during the transition (i.e., these resources have been designated as 
being ``unconstrained'') and therefore are not broken out separately 
in the Phase Scheduling Tool. Instead, as illustrated in Figure 11, 
the tasks related to these unconstrained resources have been grouped 
into the general tasks of Administration/Planning, which is within 
the Pre-Construction Stage, and Construction-related Work, which is 
within the Construction Stage. The Phase Scheduling Tool uses 
conservative estimates for the time requirements in order to safely 
over-estimate the individual needs of each station.
    Pre-Construction Stage Inputs. There are two components to the 
Pre-Construction Stage: (1) The time required for antenna equipment 
to be ordered, manufactured and delivered (a significant 
constraint); and (2) the time required for all other planning and 
administration activities necessary to prepare for construction 
(called ``Administration/Planning''). The Administration/Planning 
component includes zoning, administration, legal work, and pre-
construction alterations to tower and transmitter equipment. Since 
administration and planning activities take place in parallel and 
the activities of one station are unlikely to impact the ability of 
others to perform the same activities, the model simply estimates 
the total time needed to complete all of these activities.
    The proposed Phase Scheduling Tool categorizes stations based on 
the difficulty of completing these activities. The Commission used a 
similar ``bucketing'' approach for categorizing stations as was used 
when determining the Final Channel Assignment. Proposed time 
estimates were derived by taking estimates from Widelity and, where 
appropriate, adding ``slack'' time so that the overall estimate of 
the time required would be a conservative one. The proposed time 
estimates are shown in Table 6 below. [Table 6 Omitted].
    The Administration/Planning time estimate sets the minimum 
amount of time required for a station to complete the Pre-
Construction Stage. While Administration/Planning work is occurring, 
stations likely will place orders for their main antennas. The 
proposed time estimates for this component of the Pre-Construction 
Stage include manufacturing time once the antenna manufacturers 
receives orders from stations, as well as delivery time. If no 
station had to wait for its main antenna to be manufactured and 
delivered, then the maximum amount of time it would take any station 
to complete the Pre-Construction Stage would be the 72 weeks 
allotted for the complicated stations to complete their planning 
activities. However, the ability of manufactures to produce enough 
antennas may impact the overall schedule. Therefore, the Phase 
Scheduling Tool includes antenna manufacturing and delivery as a 
specific resource constraint. Each station within a Transition Phase 
must receive its antenna delivery in order for it to complete the 
Pre-Construction Stage.
    Stations are divided into two categories, based on the 
assumption that manufacture and delivery of directional antennas for 
full power stations will require more time than for non-directional 
and Class A antennas (of either type). The time estimates shown in 
Table 7 are based on the assumption that the antenna manufacturers 
will begin manufacturing antennas as soon as the orders are received 
unless they are manufacturing at their current capacity. [Table 7 
Omitted].
    We also propose to include in the Phase Scheduling Tool a 
specific number of antennas that can be manufactured and delivered 
at any given time. Based on those numbers, some stations may be able 
to receive their antenna without waiting for any additional time, 
but other stations may have to wait for their antennas to be 
delivered. The Phase Scheduling Tool will place such stations in a 
queue until the antenna can be delivered, based on the station's 
assigned number in a simulation order. In addition, the Phase 
Scheduling Tool will assume that manufacturers have an inventory of 
20 antennas at the start of the 39-month transition period, and that 
capacity will increase over the course of the transition period. 
These proposed assumptions are listed in Table 8 below. [Table 8 
Omitted].
    The completion of the Pre-Construction Stage for a given station 
is the maximum completion time for these two activities--either the 
time required for Administration/Planning activities or the time 
required for the manufacture and delivery of the antennas. For 
stations in early phases, the Pre-Construction Stage is usually the 
time required for Administration/Planning. For a station assigned to 
a later phase, the station will likely have completed the 
Administration/Planning activities before the delivery of its 
antenna, and therefore, its Pre-construction Stage will be completed 
when the antenna is delivered.
    Construction Stage Inputs. The approach to modeling the 
Construction Stage is similar to that of the Pre-Construction Phase 
and consists of two activities: (1) The time to complete all general 
facets of construction (called ``Construction-Related Work''); and 
(2) the time required by tower crews to complete installation of 
equipment on the tower. As with Pre-Construction Stage activities, 
these activities can occur in parallel but the estimated completion 
time for the Stage is the time required to complete both these 
activities. In addition, like the

[[Page 73054]]

Administration/Planning category in the Pre-Construction Stage, the 
Construction-Related Work category is a catch-all category of work 
for the Construction Stage. The estimated time for this activity 
includes estimates of the time to complete all construction work and 
associated management and coordination activities. More 
specifically, Construction-Related Work includes estimates for the 
time associated with installing the transmitter components, 
combiners, RF mask filters and the transmission line to the tower 
base. Construction-Related Work also allows time for any possible 
installation of liquid cooling systems, AC power, and connection to 
remote control equipment and input signal connections if required. 
Finally, Construction-Related Work includes time required for 
performing any tower modifications and any final testing of the 
system. Table 9 proposes estimates of the time to complete all work 
included in the ``Construction-Related Work'' category. [Table 9 
Omitted]
    The Construction-Related Work estimates the minimum amount of 
time required for a station to complete the Construction Stage. The 
other process in the Construction Stage work is tower work. The time 
required for tower work is both tower and antenna specific. Table 10 
lists the different characteristics that determine the amount of 
time required to perform tower work. [Table 10 Omitted]. If a 
station did not need to wait for an antenna crew to become available 
in order to complete its tower work, then the amount of time the 
station would take to complete the Construction Stage would be the 
larger of the time estimated for construction-related work and the 
time estimated for the station to complete work on its tower. 
However, not every station will be able to have a tower crew as soon 
as needed. The Phase Scheduling Tool will place any station that is 
waiting for a tower crew to become available in a queue until a crew 
becomes available, based on the station's assigned number in a 
simulation order. Stations will be removed from the queue according 
to their simulation order.
    We propose to include in the Phase Scheduling Tool specific 
estimates regarding the number of available tower crews. The record 
developed to date reflects different estimates as to the number and 
types of tower crews that will be available. In light of the 
variance in these estimates, we propose to place tower crews into 
three buckets: One for U.S. crews capable of servicing towers that 
are particularly difficult to work on due to height or location; one 
for U.S. crews that are capable of servicing easier towers; and one 
for Canadian crews. U.S. stations on towers that are above 300 feet 
in height and that are top-mounted or located on a candelabra can 
only draw from the pool of U.S. crews that can handle such difficult 
sites. Other U.S. stations can only draw from the other pool of U.S. 
crews, on the assumption that these difficult site crews will be 
fully occupied. Canadian stations can only draw from the pool of 
Canadian crews. It is likely that crews will travel between 
countries, but separating the crews in this way provides a more 
conservative estimate of the number of crews available in each 
country. We expect that the number of crews will increase as the 
transition proceeds. The specific estimates we propose are set forth 
below in Table 11. We assume a conservative growth rate in U.S. 
tower crews of 5%, but no growth in Canadian crews (which is very 
conservative). [Table 11 Omitted].
    Other assumptions incorporated into the proposed Phase 
Scheduling Tool are: (1) The estimated time required to complete 
work on a tower is reduced or discounted if more than one station on 
the tower is transitioning in the same phase. The Phase Scheduling 
Tool assumes that antenna installations will be performed by a 
single tower crew at the same time for all stations located on a 
given tower that are assigned to the same phase. The total estimated 
time for work on the tower will be the time required for the most 
difficult station plus 10 percent for the second station and five 
percent for each additional station up to an additional 30 percent. 
Based on informal discussions with industry and the record developed 
to date, we believe that these proposed discounts are appropriately 
conservative; (2) The Phase Scheduling Tool assumes that 75 percent 
of all stations (including those with a licensed auxiliary antenna) 
will need to install an auxiliary antenna. For each station 
requiring an auxiliary antenna, one additional week of tower crew 
time is added to the tower crew time, which is the maximum time 
required for an auxiliary in Table 10; and (3) Where the estimated 
time required to complete an entire transition phase is less than 
four weeks because much of the work (other than transmission testing 
on the new channel) has already occurred prior to the start date for 
the testing period of that transition phase, the testing period 
window is scaled up to allow four weeks for testing.
    Sample Output. This section provides sample results of the Phase 
Scheduling Tool using the baseline Phase Assignment Tool results and 
the proposed constraints and objectives, as presented in section III 
above, for simulated auction outcomes involving 114 MHz and 84 MHz 
clearing scenarios. Although Tables 12 and 13 below show the average 
number of weeks from the start of the phase to phase completion 
date, each phase completion date will be listed as a specific date 
when the final transition plan is released. This outputs of each 
clearing scenario are represented graphically below in Figures 12 
and 13, respectively. As both Figures show, stations within each 
phase cannot start testing until the prior phase is complete, and 
all stations within a phase must cease operating on their pre-
auction channels by the phase completion date. [Table 12, Figure 12, 
Table 13, and Figure 13 Omitted].

Appendix B--Initial Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis

    The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and where 
feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be 
affected by the proposed rules, if adopted. The following small 
entities, as well as an estimate of the number of such small 
entities, are discussed in the IRFA: (1) Full power television 
stations; (2) Class A TV and LPTV stations; (3) wireless 
telecommunications carriers (except satellite); (4) wired 
telecommunications carriers; (5) cable television distribution 
services; (6) cable companies and systems; (7) cable system 
operators (Telecom Act standard); and (8) direct broadcast satellite 
(DBS) service.
    Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rule Changes. The 
Federal Communications Commission (Commission) delegated authority 
to the Media Bureau (Bureau) to establish construction deadlines 
within the 39-month post-incentive auction transition period for 
television stations that are assigned to new channels in the 
incentive auction repacking process. Pursuant to the Commission's 
direction, the Bureau, in consultation with the Wireless 
Telecommunications Bureau, the Office of Engineering and Technology 
and the Incentive Auction Task Force, is developing a plan for a 
``phased transition schedule.'' The purpose of the Public Notice is 
to invite comment on the plan.
    The Bureau proposes to use a Phase Assignment Tool that will use 
mathematical optimization techniques to assign stations to one of 10 
``transition phases.'' The phases will have sequential testing 
periods and deadlines or ``phase completion dates.'' The phase 
completion date is the last day that a station in its assigned phase 
may operate on its pre-auction channel. The specific constraints and 
objectives the Bureau proposed are set forth in Appendix A to the 
Public Notice.
    The Bureau proposes to use a Phase Scheduling Tool to estimate 
the time required for stations in each phase to complete the tasks 
required to transition to their pre-auction channels in light of 
resource availability. The Bureau will use the Phase Scheduling Tool 
to guide it in establishing phase completion dates for each phase. 
This is the date by which stations within that phase must cease 
operations on their pre-auction channels. Appendix A details the 
specific tasks or processes that the Bureau proposes to model in the 
Phase Scheduling Tool for each stage of the transition process, as 
well as the estimated time and resource availability for each task.
    Under the proposed plan, the transition phases will begin at the 
same time, but will have sequential phase completion dates. Each 
phase will have a defined ``testing period,'' ending with the phase 
completion date. For each phase after the first one, the testing 
period will begin on the day after the phase completion date for the 
prior phase. The need for a station to coordinate with other 
stations during the testing period will depend on whether it is part 
of a ``linked-station set,'' that is, a set of two or more stations 
assigned to the same phase with interference relationships or 
``dependencies.'' Stations that are not part of a linked-station set 
may test on their post-auction channels during the testing period 
without the need for coordination. Stations that are part of a 
linked-station set must coordinate testing with stations in the set 
so as not avoid undue interference. Such stations must transition to 
their post-auction channels simultaneously.
    As part of the proposed plan, the Bureau is seeking comment on 
whether to allow

[[Page 73055]]

increased temporary interference between stations that are still 
operating on their pre-auction channels and stations testing or 
operating on their post-auction channels in order to facilitate the 
transition. The staff's analysis indicates that allowing temporary 
pairwise (station-to-station) interference above the 0.5 percent 
authorized by the rules governing increased permanent interference 
is likely to significantly reduce inter-dependencies between 
stations and facilitate coordination. The Bureau proposes to allow 
temporary pairwise interference increases of up to two percent, 
which it believes will produce substantial benefits without undue 
disruption to television service during the transition.
    The Bureau is also considering whether to assign some stations 
to temporary channels during the transition as another means of 
reducing the size or number of linked-station sets and facilitate 
the transition. The Bureau proposes to limit such assignments, 
however, to stations in complex ``cycles'' of inter-dependency. The 
Bureau also proposes to limit such assignments to channels that are 
close to stations' ultimate channel assignments, and to relatively 
low power stations, in order to limit the associated burdens and 
costs. Temporary channel assignments would replicate pre-auction 
coverage area and population served. Because the Bureau anticipates 
that stations would need to commence operations on temporary 
facilities early in the transition, it proposes to require that 
stations assigned to temporary channels apply for special temporary 
authority (STA) within ninety days of the Closing and Reassignment 
PN's release.
    If the Bureau decides to use temporary channel assignments, it 
tentatively concludes that stations will have must-carry rights on 
their temporary channels. It also proposes that any temporary 
channel assignments in the 600 MHz Band would be subject to the 
inter-service interference (ISIX) protections adopted in the ISIX 
Third Report and Order. In addition, a full power or Class A station 
operating on a temporary channel could displace a low power 
television (LPTV) station. An operating LPTV station displaced by a 
temporary channel assignment could file for a new channel during the 
post-auction LPTV displacement window. Alternatively, the displaced 
LPTV station could go silent or seek temporary authorization to 
operate its facility at variance from its authorized parameters in 
order to prevent interference.
    Because the Commission anticipated the possibility of using 
temporary channels to facilitate the transition and stated that the 
reasonably incurred costs of equipment needed to move to temporary 
channels are eligible for reimbursement, the Bureau notes that such 
costs would be eligible for reimbursement in the same manner as 
costs related to construction of permanent post-auction channel 
facilities. Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs) 
likewise should be eligible for reimbursement of all eligible costs 
in order to continue to carry a reassigned station operating on a 
temporary channel.
    Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other 
Compliance Requirements. If the Bureau decides to use temporary 
channels, it proposes to require that stations assigned to temporary 
channels apply for special temporary authority (STA) within ninety 
days of the Closing and Reassignment PN's release. It also proposes 
that any temporary channel assignments in the 600 MHz Band would be 
subject to the inter-service interference (ISIX) protections adopted 
in the ISIX Third Report and Order, which requires, among other 
things, that wireless carriers prepare and retain a study 
demonstrating that no interference will be caused to full-power or 
Class A broadcast television stations. We believe the proposals will 
not have a significant effect on the reporting, recordkeeping, or 
other compliance requirements of regulatees. To the extent that 
commenters believe that any of the proposals would impose any 
additional reporting, recordkeeping, or compliance requirement on 
small entities, we ask that they describe the nature of that burden.
    Steps Taken to Minimize Significant Impact on Small Entities and 
Significant Alternatives Considered. The RFA requires an agency to 
describe any significant alternatives that it has considered in 
reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four 
alternatives (among others): (1) The establishment of differing 
compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into 
account the resources available to small entities; (2) the 
clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance or 
reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; (3) the 
use of performance, rather than design, standard; and (4) an 
exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small 
entities.
    In general, alternatives to proposed rules or policies are 
discussed only when those rules pose a significant adverse economic 
impact on small entities. In this context, however, the proposed 
transition plan set forth in the Public Notice generally confers 
benefits. In particular, the intent of the plan is to ensure that 
all stations are able to complete a timely transition to their final 
post-auction channel facilities without delay and without incurring 
unnecessary costs. Although certain proposals, such as the use of 
temporary channels and increased interference, may impose additional 
burdens on stations and MVPDs, the benefits of such proposals (such 
as further facilitating the successful post-incentive auction 
transition) outweigh any burdens associated with compliance. 
Further, eligible stations and MVPDs that incur additional costs 
associated with these proposals may seek reimbursement. In addition, 
if a full power or Class A station operating on a temporary channel 
displaces an operating LPTV station, such LPTV station could file 
for a new channel during the post-auction LPTV displacement window. 
Alternatively, the displaced LPTV station could go silent or seek 
temporary authorization to operate its facility at variance from its 
authorized parameters in order to prevent interference.

Federal Communications Commission.
Barbara A. Kreisman,
Chief, Video Division, Media Bureau.

[FR Doc. 2016-25333 Filed 10-21-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 6712-01-P