Auction Fails to Meet $88.4 Billion Target

The FCC said Tuesday that the forward portion of the broadcast incentive auction has now closed after round 27 without meeting the conditions necessary to extend to a round 28 or meet the $88.4 billion target bidders needed to to cover the cost of payments to broadcasters.

If fell far short of that, generating only $23,108,037,900 in total and net 22.45 billion after bidding credits and discounts, which was the magic number.

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Bidding had slowed appreciably, and there were signs it would clearly not hit the $88.4 billion mark.

The FCC has not yet announced when it will start stage 2, which means going back to broadcasters at the lower clearing target. The auction was planned for multiple rounds, but having to go back to a reverse auction and then a second stage forward auction will add to the time frame and mean fewer broadcasters will get a big payday, though the prices could go up for the spectrum given that supply is being reduced.

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" Bidding in the forward auction has concluded for Stage 1 without meeting the final stage rule and without meeting the conditions to trigger an extended round. The incentive auction will continue with Stage 2 at a lower clearing target," the FCC said.

The FCC will likely start stage 2 of the reverse auction next week. It has to leave at least five days between stages, but probably won't take much more than that.

The original reverse auction took four weeks, so that is probably a good gauge for the stage 2 reverse. The stage 1 forward auction took two weeks.

In the next five days the FCC will release new information on a new spectrum target and when the reverse auction will begin. It will also put out a refresher tutorial for broadcasters.

The FCC will be buying fewer stations in the reverse auction this time around. Some stations will be getting lower prices, and some of those could drop out, deciding they don't want to sell at that price.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.