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FCC Provides More Spectrum Auction Bidding Flexibility

The FCC is giving proxy bidders more flexibility in lowering their asking price for TV spectrum in the broadcast incentive auction that began May 31.

Bidders can set the system to accept the FCC's lower bids automatically—by proxy—but in the initial rounds, the FCC would not accept an automatic lower bid (sort of like the reverse of an eBay auction automatic higher bid) floor--lower than which a broadcaster would not go--of less than 75% of the current bid.

Setting a maximum percentage drop for proxy bids was a "safety mechanism," said the FCC, to "ensure bidders do not accidentally enter a dollar figure much lower than they had intended."

Gvien that the auction is now in round 11—as of 10 a.m. June 8—bidders should be familiar with the process and so the FCC Wednesday changed the automatic bid percentage to be no less than 50% of the current bid.

That means that if a current bid were, say $100 million, the previous automatic proxy bid could be no less than $75 million. Now it could be no less than $50 million.

"Now that bidders have had nearly two weeks of real-world experience using the bidding system, we wanted to offer some additional flexibility," an FCC spokesperson said.

Bidders can also override the proxy bid at any time and the FCC advised bidders to monitor their proxy bids from round to round.

One source following the online auction said the move is an effort to make the auction more user-friendly, particularly for folks who may not be monitoring round by round.

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.