FCC Speeds Broadcaster Auction Bidding

Moves to three rounds per day

The FCC on Monday goosed stage three reverse spectrum auction bidding as advertised.

Broadcasters bidding to give up spectrum at the FCC's price (which decreases by 5% per round) started with one four-hour round on Nov. 1, moved to two two-hour rounds on Nov. 2-4, and Nov. 7 moved to three one hour rounds until further notice. 

That is likely all the rounds the FCC will put in a day, but it could raise the 5% decrement to speed the clock.

The move to three rounds came earlier than in the previous two stages, but the auction is still likely to go about four weeks since bidding will be suspended Nov. 11 for Veterans Day and Nov. 23-25 for a long Thanksgiving weekend.

The auction is expected to go about 52 rounds, after which a clearing cost for the 108 MHz of spectrum being reclaimed is posted and, likely within four or five days, stage three of the forward auction begins.

It is now looking likely that the auction will extend into 2017. Even if the forward auction bidders covered the stage three prices, the FCC would still continue the auction until bidding is done in all markets, then it will be scheduling a post-auction auction among the forward auction winners for specific channels.