On Friday, the FCC announced that it will auction 9 new FM channels on January 10.  These are channels that went unpurchased in prior FM auctions – either because no one bid on the channels or because the winning bidder defaulted on its winning bid (presumably by not paying for the channel when the full payment was due). 

The channels are for new stations at the following locations:  Covelo and Tecopa, California; Cedar Key and Perry, Florida; Kihei, Hawaii; Outlook, Montana; Ocracoke, North Carolina; Meyersdale, Pennsylvania; and Parowan, Utah.  The FCC proposed rules for the auction, here, and set out the amounts of minimum bids that it expects to collect for each of these channels, here.  The exact date for the filing of the initial short form applications and the posting of the minimum bids will be announced after the final rules for the auction are adopted.  Comments on the Proposed Rules and the minimum bids are due on September 6.

Perhaps most interesting is the fact that the FCC has chosen to open only this mini-window at this time.  In each of the last two years, at about this time of year, the FCC has announced the opening of auction windows for large numbers of FM stations.  Hundreds of stations have been auctioned in these last two years.  The FCC has hundreds of FM allotments around the country that already been made but which have never been available for applications.  These will be apparently be subject to auction at some later date.

In an unusual action, the FCC last week also announced that it will open an auction window for a new AM station to operate on 1700 kHz in Rockland County, New York.  The FCC never allocates AM stations by geographical location, instead it periodically opens filing windows and allows applicants to submit applications for new stations wherever they fit without causing interference to existing stations.  This unique AM allotment was made pursuant to a waiver request by a local station which argued that a full-time station was necessary to provide emergency information about a nuclear power plant serving the New York City area.  The FCC will announce when applications for this channel will be taken at a later date.  The FCC order can be found here