The FCC has released a public notice asking for comment on the procedures that it plans to use for a new FM auction now scheduled to be held in September. The channels to be included in that auction, and the proposed minimum bids for those channels, can be found on a list released by the Commission, here. Parties who are interested in bidding for any of these channels will be able to submit short form applications indicating the channels in which they are interested at some point to be determined in the future – probably late Spring or early Summer, so that the FCC can process those applications and receive the necessary upfront payments from parties interested in the auction in time for the auction itself to begin in September. Thus, parties who are interested in any of these channels should start their due diligence process now, and determine which channels may be of interest, and which channels can actually be built in such a way as to cover areas that an applicant may want to serve, so that they can be ready to file their applications, probably in May or June.
Applications, when filed, will not need to specify a specific transmitter site but, once the auction is over, winning bidders will need to quickly identify and file complete applications containing specific transmitter sites for which they have reasonable assurance. Thus, they should begin preparations for the auction now. Applicants who have identified a site can specify that site in their applications to protect it from subsequent applications. Thus, FM broadcasters should also anticipate a freeze on the filing of any FM technical applications at some point in late Spring in anticipation of the auction, in order to give applicants a stable technical situation so that they can identify usable transmitter sites.
Note that, while there are 122 channels spread around the country, there seem to be a large concentration in Texas, Oklahoma and California. So check out the list, and see what might be of interest.
Comments on the procedures for the auction are due on April 1.