Incentive Auction Moves to Round Nine

Stage 4 of the forward portion of the FCC's spectrum auction will continue to round nine Thursday (Jan. 26), after bidding in smaller markets continued to increase the total by a few more million, which will be going to the Treasury. 

Forward auction bidders bid up the total for 70 MHz of spectrum to $18,505,053,387 Wednesday afternoon (Jan. 25), up about $22 million from $18,483,638,387 in the previous round that day.

That activity insured that the auction would continue into a round nine starting at 10 a.m. on Thursday.

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").

There was, again, no excess demand in the top 40 markets in round nine -- there had 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.

After the main auction closes, the winners will participate in a second auction 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.

Stage four could end any day, or continue for weeks, but regardless, the FCC in the next couple of weeks will start letting all full-power and Class A stations know what their new channel assignments will be in the post auction repack, though they cannot share them or make them public.

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.