Yesterday was a busy day for the TV incentive auction, where the FCC is attempting to clear portions of the TV band by paying TV stations to surrender their licenses, and repurpose the cleared spectrum for wireless broadband users. As we wrote earlier this week, Stage 3 of the Forward Auction started yesterday, where wireless companies would have had to come up with over $42 billion dollars to meet the costs of clearing the TV band. The Forward Auction closed after one round of bidding with bids totaling $19,676,240,520. Thus, we are on to Stage 4, with the FCC expected to attempt to clear 84 MHz of TV spectrum instead of the 108 MHz target in the just concluded Stage 3. The Reverse Auction in Stage 4 is expected to commence on Tuesday, December 13, but look for confirmation later this week.
At the same time, there are two other bits of auction related news – both dealing with stations eligible for the auction. In the first, the US Court of Appeals rejected the appeal of Walker Broadcasting Company, a company that had an authorization for a new TV station, but had not finished construction and licensing of that station in time for inclusion in the auction. Had it been included in the auction, the company could have attempted to sell its license in the auction and, if its station was not one purchased in the auction for surrender, the FCC would have had to find a new channel on which the station could operate after the auction. Instead, the Court upheld the FCC’s ruling that the station had not met the required construction deadlines, and therefore did not qualify to be included in the auction or for post-auction protection. Continue Reading