FCC Will Unveil Forward Auction Bidders Mid-July

The timetable for the start of the forward portion of the broadcast incentive auction became clearer Friday as the FCC revealed that it would reveal the final list of eligible bidders.

Upfront payments from the approximately 100 bidders who are eligible to bid and subject to those payments are due to the FCC by 5 p.m. July 1.

Related: Ryvicker—Spectrum Auction Likely to See Multiple Stages

"Once we’ve validated which applicants have made payments, we will release a list [in a public notice] of qualified bidders in mid-July," announced Gary Epstein and Howard Symons, chair and vice chair, respectively, of the FCC's Incentive Auction Task Force.

Given that the FCC has said the forward auction can't begin for 15 business days after the public notice, that puts the earliest start, and barring unforeseen complications the likely start, of the forward auction in mid-August.

Related: Spectrum Auction—Broadcaster Exit Price Is $86,422,558,704

The reverse portion of the round ended June 29, with the FCC now having to raise at least $88 billion in the forward auction to cover the $86.4 billion payment to broadcasters that bidding yielded, as well as auction costs and TV station moving expenses after the auction. Otherwise, the FCC will have to continue the reverse auction at a lower spectrum clearing target than the current 126 MHz (actually, the forward bidders will be bidding on 100 MHz, with the rest needed for buffer bands between users).

Once the qualified bidders public notice is issued (that's mid-July), the FCC will use that 15 days for bidder education and a mock auction. They could not start educating before winnowing the field to the actual eligible bidders because it is giving them access to the actual online bidding system.

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.