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FAQ about the FCC Spectrum Auction

What is the Spectrum Auction?

Vermont PBS participated in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Broadcast Spectrum Incentive Auction, in which some commercial and non-commercial television station licensees sold some or all of their broadcast frequencies to wireless broadband companies. The auction began in March 2016. This process arose out of an action by Congress based on the FCC’s 2010 National Broadband Plan, which called for freeing more spectrum for wireless broadband use by using less spectrum for broadcast television. See:

The Spectrum Auction is a complicated topic; this video may help to explain it.

How did Vermont PBS participate?

Vermont PBS has been a careful steward of its four broadcast licenses. In 2009, digital technology expanded the coverage area of the licensed spectrum. After careful engineering studies, Vermont PBS determined that it could continue to maintain over the air coverage within a re-engineered and reinforced deployment of three of its licenses.  The Board of Directors therefore voted to offer one of its licenses, for spectrum transmitted from Mount Ascutney in Windsor, in the auction.  This is the asset that was sold for $56 million.

How will this affect my service?

Vermont PBS will reengineer its network and upgrade its remaining signals to ensure these changes will not affect over-the-air coverage to Vermonters. These changes may affect some New Hampshire viewers who receive Vermont PBS via an antenna, though precisely who and where will not be evident until we begin deployment of the technical reengineering of our system. We plan to create a webpage so that viewers can "test" their location to determine whether their antenna over the air service is impacted.These changes should have no effect on viewers who receive Vermont PBS programs online, by cable, or by satellite service.  

With such an influx of money, does Vermont PBS still need donations from viewers like me?

Public media was created to serve the community and to bring high quality programming that is noncommercial and nonpartisan into service for the public. The proceeds of the auction are a one-time source of revenue that the station will use to build a 21st century public media platform for the local community. It will allow Vermont PBS to deliver educational and cultural programming to you in more ways in which you are able to participate.Your support is crucial so that we continue to be your station.Though the proceeds from the auction are very significant, they will not achieve the mission of public media in Vermont if we spend the funds to meet existing operating needs.

How will Vermont PBS spend the money?

Vermont PBS has embarked on a strategic planning process that envisions a vibrant role for public media in our region. We plan to use this extraordinary opportunity to help secure the next 50 years of public media for Vermont. We will be engaging with the public as part of this process, so we can hear directly from our viewers what most matters to them regarding the future of Vermont PBS.

Questions?  Please contact us at, and see our press release here.

Watch the press conference from Feb 17