H Block Nears $800 Million in Bids

 With 22 rounds completed, the FCC's H block auction has drawn almost $800 million in bids for 157 of the 176 licenses available.

Not surprisingly, the top three media markets are the top three in bid amounts with New York, the nation's largest media market, at $170,429,000, followed by L.A. with $103,587,000 and Chicago at $87,248,000.

At $781,401,200, the auction is almost exactly halfway toward the aggregate floor price of $1.564 billion the FCC set, but at least that price is guaranteed regardless of whether it makes that figure in open bidding.

Dish has agreed to bid at least that much in exchange for a waiver the FCC issued giving it more flexible use of adjacent spectrum Dish already owns, which the company had said was a quid pro quo for its participation in the auction.

The H block auction is the first of three auctions to raise money for FirstNet, the broadband interoperable public safety net proposed by the 911 commission, culminating in the broadcast incentive auction planned for 2015.

The more money raised in the first two auctions, the less pressure there is on the broadcast auction to pay for FirstNet.

The H block auction launched Jan. 22.

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.