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FCC Clarifies Auction Options For Station Sales

The FCC says stations applying for the incentive auction that apply for transfers of license between the application window opening date of Dec. 8 and the closing date of Jan. 12 get two options for who will represent them in the auction.

The FCC initially was not going to allow such deals during the auction, but in October when it released its framework, it included the change for the sake of flexibility--and to encourage more participation--and now is clarifying how that flexible policy will be implemented.

A TV station owner gets an FCC Registration Number (FRN)--usually one number for the whole group if it owns more than one station. The FCC has frozen those numbers for applicants to the incentive auction as of the opening of the Dec. 8 window to reduce the number of moving parts in the Rubik's cube of an auction.

For stations in the auction whose applications to be transferred to new owners have been filed between Dec. 8 and Jan. 12, those new owners can either designate the current owners to be the bidding agent and have access to information via that FRN (and provide bidding instructions up until Jan. 12), or they can strike a deal with the current owner to access the FRN and be their own bidding agent.

In the second case, if the current owner has other stations assigned to the same FRN, they can get a new one so that the new owner can't access information about those stations via other FCC systems that use the FRN.

They have to pick one of those options by Jan. 12, the quite period when certain communications are prohibited.

If the original owner acts as the bidding agent, the new owner must abide by its auction actions.

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.