FCC's Spectrum Auction Moves Forward to Round 14

The new total for stage four, round 13, of the FCC spectrum auction is $18,583,877,387, up about $18.5 billion from $18,565,289,387 in round 12.

Round 14 begins Monday, Jan. 30, at 10 a.m.

The FCC Friday released its plans for repacking TV stations after the auction, which will wrap up after stage four. Broadcasters will get $10 billion, with so far about $6 billion going to the Treasury for deficit reduction (and another $1.9 billion for auction expenses and repack costs).

The auction will continue until demand no longer exceeds supply in any of the 416 markets where the spectrum is available (actually it is divided into partial economic areas [PEAs]). Bidders are competing for 10 MHz blocks of unimpaired (essentially interference-free) spectrum.

As of Jan. 18, the auction had met both its benchmarks for closing—the price of spectrum in the top 40 PEAs and covering that broadcaster asking price of $10 billion, so stage four will be the last one.

After that, the FCC will hold a second assignment auction among the winning bidders for specific frequencies.

They are currently bidding on generic blocks. Then it will announce which TV station bids were accepted (losers will not be revealed for two years), and the 39-month repack clock will start ticking.

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.