TV landscape could be flipped upside down

June 27, 2016
June 27, 2016 smz-blog

TV landscape could be flipped upside down

In an effort to stay up to date on this blog topic, following is a news update: SpectrumAuctionMagicNumber:$86Billion TVNewsCheck, June 29, 2016 12:24 PM EDT

The FCC’s reverse auction has just concluded, with the FCC promising to pay broadcasters $86,422,558,704 to either go off the air (or channel share); move from a UHF to a high VHF or low VHF channel; or move from a high VHF channel to a low VHF channel. The FCC won’t know if it will be able to pay broadcasters the $86-plus billion until it completes the forward auction of the promised spectrum to wireless bidders. If it falls short, the commission will have to redo the reverse auction in a second stage until the numbers line up.


The Federal Communication Commission wants to create more airwave space for smartphones and tablets, and it is looking to TV stations across the country to free up that room. The FCC’s auction of public airwaves will result in faster speeds on mobile devices to stream video on the go for example. But it could come at a cost for over-the-air viewers who watch TV for free with antennas, as some of their favorite channels could go dark. Some local stations that carry popular rerun or syndicated shows could be in jeopardy. Cable and satellite subscribers could also lose some channels.*

SMZ’s media team contacted media reps in a few key markets to get the latest scoop.  However, since the auction process will be ongoing for a while, any predictions of its outcome are pure speculation. Some reps assured us that the process would be long and there’s no way programming will be affected in time for 3rd and 4th quarter of 2016.  There’s even a chance that the auction won’t raise enough funds and the whole process will be cancelled.  However, there are simply no guarantees either way at this point.

The auction end results could very well cause some necessary last minute media buy reallocations but as Marci Burdick, a  senior communication advisor said, “The chess pieces may move around in terms of who owns which affiliation and on what channel it’s distributed, but I don’t think consumers will significantly lose any service.”

Other research from varied sources says the same, that along with viewers, advertisers shouldn’t panic. According to SMZ’s Director of Media Buying, Terri Peirce, the channels most likely to be effected will be the HD/2nd tier channels and the Independent Stations  “There are always exceptions but it’s unlikely that people’s “favorite channels” or main programming will change,” said Peirce.

SMZ has a wide array of clients including some who absolutely depend on being on broadcast TV and cable.  They are all full steam ahead with 3rd and 4th quarter buys despite this auction and the complexity the Presidential race guarantees.  We know that means we may have to make last minute shifts to existing buys. But no matter what the scenario, we always get our clients on the air and meet or exceed point levels.

Please share your opinion or concerns about the FCC auction.

Ann McGee, Senior VP/General Manager

*Source South Bend Tribune 6-2-16


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