FCC Extends Comment Deadline on Auction Bidding NPRM

The FCC has moved the deadlines for comment on its proposed changes to action bidding rules so commenters can factor in the current AWS-3 auction into the equation.

In October, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking launching a revision of some of its competitive bidding rules for auctions, including making it easier for small and minority businesses to bid and tentatively concluding that the Big Four wireless carriers can't team up to bid in the incentive auction or other, future, auctions.

The NPRM did not come in time to affect the AWS-3 auction, which launched Nov. 13, but that auction may affect how the rules are changed, or at least how commenters respond to the proposed changes, the FCC signaled.

Initially comments were to be due Dec. 29 (which would have been some holiday billing hours for media attorneys), with replies due Jan. 20. But the FCC has moved those dates to Jan. 23 and Feb. 12, respectively.

The FCC had signaled that it wanted to complete the NPRM in plenty of time for interested parties to factor in the changes while planning for the incentive auction. But the FCC has moved that incentive auction target date from 2015 to early 2016. The AWS-3 auction has proved to be a wild success, which may change how bidders approach the incentive auction.

The FCC's Wireless Bureau says postponing the comments by a few weeks shouldn't be a problem.

"On November 13, 2014, bidding commenced in Auction 97, which offers AWS-3 licenses covering the greatest amount of spectrum suitable for mobile broadband services since the 2008 auction of 700 MHz licenses (Auction 73)," the bureau pointed out in announcing the comment deadline extension. "Extending the deadlines for comments and reply comments in response to the NPRM as set forth herein will increase the likelihood that interested parties will be able to take into account more complete information about the results of the bidding in Auction 97 and thereby promote a more comprehensive record in this proceeding, our first comprehensive look at these rules in years, without jeopardizing the Commission’s ability to act on the NPRM sufficiently in advance of the upcoming broadcast incentive auction."

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.