FCC's Incentive Auction Proceeds to Stage 4, Round 8

Like the spectrum auction version of the Energizer bunny, stage four of the spectrum incentive auction just keeps on going and going.

Forward auction bidders bid up the total for 70 MHz of spectrum to $18,483,638,387, up about $22 million from $18,461,523,987 in round seven.

That activity insured that the auction would continue into a round eight later Wednesday.

The auction will close after this forward auction stage because both key benchmarks—covering broadcasters' asking price plus $1.9 billion in auction and repacking costs and a set spectrum floor price in the top 40 markets—have been met (what was referred to as the "final stage rule").

Bidding continues Wednesday starting at 2 p.m.

There was no excess demand in the top 40 markets in round eight—there had been excess demand in the number three market, Chicago, as recently as Monday, as well as in a couple of other markets since the benchmarks were met and the auction proceeded to what is essentially a clean-up phase. 

The auction will continue until demand does not exceed supply in any of the 416 markets. Demand continues to exceed supply in smaller markets.

After the main auction closes, there will be a second auction among the winners for specific frequencies. The current auction is only to win generic blocks of 10 MHz, 5 uplink and five downlink, with seven blocks available in each market.

It may take a few days before that second auction can begin, since it is a different format and the FCC will likely schedule training and even a mock auction, as it did with the main 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.