Round Seven: Auction Bids Total $11.5 Billion

With the first week of the forward portion of the FCC broadcast incentive spectrum auction on the books, the commission still has a ways to go before it gets to the $88 billion-plus it needs to generate from bids on 126 MHz of reclaimed broadcast spectrum to pay those broadcasters and cover other expenses.

The auction is actually structured to go multiple rounds and the FCC is prepared to reduce that spectrum target at several times if necessary.

The bid total stands at $11,526,999,000, up from $11,059,842,000 in round six.

Minus bidding credits and discounts, that means the FCC has raised $10,960,000,000 toward the $88,379,558,704 it needs to cover the cost of 1) paying broadcasters for their 126 MHz worth of spectrum, 2) paying them to move off that spectrum, and 3) paying for the auction itself. The bidding also has to meet certain price benchmarks in the top 40 geographic market areas before it can close the auction.

If the FCC does not meet that top market price or cover the $88-plus billion, it will lower its spectrum clearing target to 114 MHz and continue the reverse auction at the lower payout, then take a second crack at covering that with a new forward auction.

The forward auction is a clock auction, where the FCC continues to raise the price in each round.

Related: Wheeler says auction could extend into FY 2017

The FCC is currently holding two, two-hour bidding rounds per day, but could increase or decrease that. The forward auction began Aug. 16.

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.