FCC Gears Up For Stage 3 Of Forward Auction

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FCCStage 3 of the FCC’s Forward Auction is expected to begin on Monday, Dec. 5.


That’s according to an official announcement from the Commission distributed just prior to the start of bidding in Round 41 of the reverse auction’s third stage on Monday morning, in which the FCC says “Forward Auction bidders should be prepared for bidding to begin that day.”

Stage 3 of the FCC’s Reverse Auction is expected to conclude on Thursday, Dec. 1.

On Friday, the start date and initial bidding schedule for Stage 3 of the Forward Auction will be made official.

Confirmation of the Dec. 5 start date will be made via an announcement posted Friday by the FCC in the forward auction bidding system and in the Public Reporting System.

Under the current bidding schedule and decrement, the base clock price will reach $0 in Round 52, which is scheduled for Thursday.

However, the Commission notes that it’s possible for the reverse auction to take up to two additional bidding rounds beyond the point at which the base clock price has reached $0, if the final bidding status has not yet been determined for any VHF stations.

To ensure the Reverse Auction closes on or close to schedule, the bidding schedule is being accelerated on Thursday to allow for additional rounds of bidding.

This means that, come Thursday, Round 50 is scheduled for the 10 a.m. hour, Round 51 is set for the 1 p.m. hour, Round 52 is scheduled for the 3 p.m. hour, Round 53 would be held during the 4 p.m. hour, and a potential Round 54 would be conducted during the 5 p.m. hour.

The FCC’s broadcast incentive auction resumed on Nov. 1, with broadcasters getting the chance to close the gap with wireless companies on the value of spectrum with the commencement of Stage 3 of the Reverse Auction.

The new clearing target is 108 MHz, with 80 MHz of licensed spectrum up for grabs.

The maximum number of spectrum blocks per market were reduced to 8 in Stage 3 of the Reverse Auction, from 9 in Stage 2 and 10 in Stage 1.

The second stage of the FCC’s reverse auction concluded with Round 53 on Oct. 13, with a new clearing target of $54.59 billion — exactly $33.8 billion lower than the forward auction’s first stage. The clearing target had been reduced from 126 MHz to 114 MHz.

Several more rounds of back-and-forth bidding may be seen before an agreeable clearing target is reached.

Unlike the Forward Auction, the Reverse Auction is conducted with a high level of secrecy, with participants forbidden by law to say what is happening.

However, the FCC is expected to release the aggregate amount of reverse auction bids at the end of Stage 3 on Thursday or Friday.


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Adam R Jacobson is a veteran radio industry journalist and advertising industry analyst with general, multicultural and Hispanic market expertise. From 1996 to 2006 he served as an editor at Radio & Records.