FCC Releases Incentive Auction Details and Important Dates

Late last week, the FCC released two important documents regarding the upcoming 600 MHz Auction (better known as the “Incentive Auction” or “Auction 1000”) – the opening bid prices for broadcasters and the application procedures for both the broadcasters and wireless providers.

Opening Bid Prices for Broadcasters
First, the FCC provided the opening bid prices for broadcasters participating in the reverse auction (what it is calling “Auction 1001”). Each individual station has an associated maximum price the FCC is willing to pay the broadcasters for either relinquishing its license in full, moving from a UHF station to a high-VHF station, or moving from a UHF or high-VHF station to a low-VHF channel. Opening bids range from as high as $900 million for WCBS-TV in New York City to go completely off air, to as low as $1.2 million for KXGN-TV in Glendive, Mont. In some instances, the FCC has determined that it does not need to offer to buy the station and has consequently identified that station as “not needed.” In each subsequent round of the reverse auction, the bid prices will decrease until the bidding system determines that it has recouped the amount needed to meet the spectrum clearing target. These opening bids could provide insight into the eventual prices for wireless providers in the spectrum auction.

Application Procedures for Broadcasters and Wireless Providers
The FCC also released the Application Procedures, which detail the steps both reverse and forward auction participants must take to participate in the Incentive Auction, opening bid prices for wireless providers participating in the forward auction, technical details regarding the bid process, and important dates (below).

For the forward auction (“Auction 1002”), as JSI described in its September 15 e-lert, bidding is based on generic license blocks within a partial economic area (PEA). Appendix F of the Application Procedures provides a list of forward auction bidding units, upfront payments, and minimum opening bids for each PEA. Each license block is composed of bidding units that range from 27,000 for New York City to one unit in Waynesboro, Ga. Since each bidding unit is $5,000, an opening bid for one block in New York City will be $135M and $5,000 in Waynesboro. Opening bids for 75 of the 416 PEAs will have rural licenses available for under $100K, and 49 will be available for $50,000 or less.

Schedule for Forward Auction Participants

  • Pre-Auction Process Tutorial Available (via Internet):
    January 7, 2016
  • Auction Application Filing Window Opens:
    January 14, 2016, 12:00 p.m. ET
  • Auction Application Filing Window Closes:
    January 28, 2016, 6:00 p.m. ET
  • Bidding and Post-Auction Process Tutorial (via Internet):
    February 29, 2016
  • Initial Commitment Deadline:
    March 29, 2016, 6:00 p.m. ET
  • Initial Clearing Target and Band Plan Announced:
    Three to four weeks after the initial commitment deadline
  • Upfront Payments Due (via wire transfer):
    Deadline to be announced in the Upfront Payments Public Notice (PN)
  • Clock and Assignment Phase Mock Auction:
    To be announced in the Auction 1002 Qualified Bidders PN
  • Clock-Phase Auction Begins:
    To be announced in the Auction 1002 Qualified Bidders PN

JSI has compiled a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) for companies interested in learning more about the Incentive Auction. Interested companies also can contact John Kuykendall or Tanea Foglia at 301-459-7590 for more information and the FAQs.

Source: JSI e-Lert