FCC's Spectrum Auction Pushes on to Round 16

Commission has goosed rounds to help speed process

The FCC's spectrum auction will continue into round 16 after participants in the forward auction, round 15 of stage four, bid up the total price to   $18,627,621,387, up a hair over $20 million from $18,607,285,387 in round 14.

The forward auction bidders are nothing if not consistent, staying around that $20 million-per-round boost over that last few rounds.

The FCC increased the number of rounds Monday from two to four to help move the process along, but it will keep going until all the bidding stops. There remains bidding in small markets, where the prices are relatively low and the bid increases relatively small.

Bidding continues in a handful of the remaining 416 markets, including Fort Wayne, Ind.; Tallahassee, Fla.; and Eugene, Ore.

The broadcasters' payout in the reverse auction has already been set at a little over $10 billion, with anything above that, minus $1.9 billion for auction expenses and repacking costs (or a total of about $12 billion), going to the Treasury for deficit reduction.

The FCC Friday released the final framework for the TV station post-auction repack and process for filing for their share of that $1.9 billion.

The auction has met its two price benchmarks for closing—covering the $12 billion and a minimum price in the top 40 markets—but it will continue while there is still any bidding on any of the 416 markets.