Spectrum Auction Total Increases by $64 Million

In the first round since the FCC boosted its asking price increase by 10%, bidders bid up the total by $64 million in round 22 of stage four of the forward portion of the spectrum incentive auction.

After averaging about $20 million increases per round for many days, rounds 20 and 21 of stage four saw big jumps of about $75 million and $73 million, respectively.

The round 22 total was $18,928,450,387 compared to round 21's $18,864,090,387.

The auction has already met its two key clearing targets and broadcasters already know how much they are getting, about $10 billion, so the auction will end at the end of the current forward auction stage. The difference between that $10 billion payout, plus $1.9 billion for auction expenses and TV station post-auction relocation, will go to the treasury.

The auction can't close until there is no more bidding in any of the 416 markets, which is not yet the case. For example, in round 22 there was more demand than supply in a number of smaller (below the top 40) markets, including Richmond, Va., and Kalamazoo, Mich.

The FCC is making 70 MHz of spectrum available, divided into seven 10 MHz blocks, in each market.

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.  The FCC had been raising the price by 5%, but as of Wednesday boosted that to 10% to speed the auction to its close.

At that point the auction will close and a second auction will be held among winning bidders to assign specific frequencies.

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.