Spectrum Auction: Bidders Up Ante to $19,264,644,453

Bidders in stage four of the forward portion of the FCC’s broadcast incentive auction continued to battle for spectrum blocks in smaller markets Friday, with round 30 coming in at $19,227,253,461, up about 33 million from $19,194,000,446 in round 29, and round 31 adding another $37 million or so.

Thursday's bidding saw the auction push past the 2008 700 MHz auction to second place in the FCC's all-time list by gross revenue.

The AWS-3 wireless auction remains the undisputed leader at $40 billion-plus.

Broadcasters won't be getting any of the excess cash beyond their $10 billion payout, but the treasury will, after the FCC deducts $1.9 billion for auction expenses and a transition fund for broadcasters repacking into smaller spectrum space after the auction.

The auction has already met its two key clearing targets, so the auction will end at the end of the current forward auction stage. The auction can't close until there is no more bidding in any of the 416 markets, which is not yet the case.

The forward auction is a clock auction in which the FCC raises the price in each round until demand does not exceed supply in each round.

As of Feb. 1, the FCC bumped up its per-round price increase from 5% over the previous price to 10%.

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.