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FCC Reschedules FM Auction

At long last, the Federal Communications Commission has rescheduled its oft-delayed auction of hundreds of new commercial FM channels.

On Nov. 3, 290 allotments, mostly for small markets, will be put on on the block. Minimum bids range from $1,500--Idalia, Colo.--to the $200,000 minimum for Wahiawa, Hawaii.

The bidding was originally scheduled for Feb., 2001, and was to include 350 stations. That sale was postponed several times, in part because public radio stations convinced judges they should be able to vie for channels on commerical segments of the band without being forced to bid.

To first give public stations a crack at the channels, the FCC was forced to design a point system for judging competing noncommercial applications and give educational and other nonprofit operators a chance to apply. Due to the noncommercial gambit, 60 channels have been removed from the commercial auction.

Comments on the FCC's auction an are due May 6; replies May 13.