FCC Sets Deadline for Forward Auction Payments

The FCC has set July 1 as the deadline for the 99 authorized forward spectrum auction bidders to make upfront payments.

The FCC has said the reverse portion of the auction could take 4-6 weeks, but if it stays on the new, three-rounds-per-day schedule that starts Monday (June 13), it will be over before the end of June (it began May 31).

In any event, the FCC said today (June 8) that it needs all forward auction payments by 5 p.m. Eastern time July 1 in order for the forward auction bidders to participate.

Once the reverse auction closes and the FCC announces how much money it will have to pay broadcasters to clear the initial 126 MHz target, the FCC will launch the forward auction. If bidders bid enough to cover that payment, plus the cost of the auction and $1,75 billion in TV station post-auction moving expenses, the auction will close. If the forward auction does not raise enough, the FCC will reset to a lower clearing target (114 MHz) and continue the reverse auction until it comes up with a new payout total for clearing that figure, then hold another forward auction.

All those forward auction upfront payments--which will total in the billions of dollars--must be made by wire transfer and must be to the Federal Reserve Bank in New York by that 5 p.m., July 1, deadline.

A bidder's upfront payment will equal the number of bidding units it wants times $2,500.

For example, there are 10 spectrum blocks in Indianapolis, with 1,500 bidding units per block. So, the upfront payment to bid on one block would be 1,500 times $2,500, or $3,750,000. The more bidding units bought, the more spectrum can be bid on. The units are not tied to any particular swath of spectrum.

The FCC says it will make an upfront payment calculator available to help calculate the upfront payments.

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.