H Block Update: Bids Top $1 Billion

With 31 rounds under its belt, the FCC's H block auction has drawn over  a billion dollars in bids ($1,006,289 000) for the vast majority (174) of the 176 licenses up for auction.

New York accounts for more than 20% of that total with more than  $216.9 million bid most recently for that license, but there have been no new bids on that market in more than a half-dozen rounds.

The FCC has set a floor price of $1.564 billion aggregate for all the licenses, but Dish has promised to at least meet that figure so the commission does not face the prospect of a failed auction so long as Dish comes through as promised. It made that promise in exchange for a waiver for more flexible use of the adjacent spectrum it already owns.

The auction began Jan. 22 and is expected to continue into next week. It is the first of three spectrum auctions culminating in the broadcast incentive auction.

The auction won't be over until there is one round with no new bids, withdrawn bids or waivers (there were no waivers or withdrawls in round 31, and 48 new bids). After which if the FCC's reserve price were not met, the auction would close and the FCC would have to regroup.

But the expectation is that there will be at least one bidder per round--Dish--until that aggregate minimum is reached.

By statute the spectrum has to be auctioned and reassigned by next year.

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.