Last week, the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force and Media Bureau launched an updated DTV Reception map aimed at helping consumers during the post-Incentive Auction repack. The new DTV Reception Map (available here) will reflect changes to TV stations as they begin transmitting on new channels between now and July 2020 during the post-Incentive Auction transition. While the FCC says that 50 stations have already transitioned, that number is expected to increase as the spring season hits.
The changes to channels will not impact satellite and cable users, but those who catch their favorite TV shows via over-the-air antennas may need to rescan their TV sets so that they can continue to watch TV while stations in their area get moved to new frequencies. Each station is required to provide viewers with at least 30 days of on-air notice of a channel change.
The DTV Reception Map will work the same way it has for years, allowing viewers to simply type in their location so that they can see all available broadcast station signals in their area, along with an indication of their signal strength and the station’s location (for antenna pointing). However, the FCC did update the Reception Map to include a column labeled “IA” to help viewers identify if the station is making changes as a result of the incentive auction. If there is an “R” next to the channel, it means it was reassigned to a new frequency; and if there is an “OS” it means the station is an auction winner and intends to share a channel with another station in its market. Those channel sharing arrangements are already being implemented for many stations, and the Reception Map can now provide viewers with information on where to find their relocated signals. Important for broadcasters is that all of their information is up to date and that they are aware that the deadline for finalizing the channel move is public and will be posted on the DTV Reception map.
If you have any question on how to navigate the post-incentive auction world, contact us and one of our attorneys will be happy to assist you. Call us at 703-812-0400.