As we wrote about about back in September, the FCC has allocated two new DTV stations in the Mid-Atlantic region, one in New Jersey — Channel 4 in Atlantic City — and one in Delaware — Channel 5 in Seaford). With the release yesterday of its further Public Notice, the Commission has now officially slated the auction of the two new channels for Tuesday, February 15, 2011. In the auction Notice, available here, the Commission formally adopts the rules and the minimum opening bids for the auction, setting the starting point for each construction permit at $200,000. Applicants interested in participating in the auction will need to put at least that much on deposit in order to be eligible to bid, and will be required to start the bidding at that amount. And while $200k is the starting point, there is no limit to the ultimate purchase price.
Short Form Applications on FCC Form 175 must be submitted by 6:00 PM ET on December 15, 2010 in order to participate, and upfront deposits are due by 6:00 PM ET on January 21, 2010. The FCC will hold a Mock Auction on February 11, 2011 to allow eligible bidders to test out the bidding interface, and the real thing will kick off on February 15, 2011. As we discussed in our earlier post, given the looming issue of incentive auctions and spectrum repacking, as well as the reception issues attendant with low VHF channels, it will be interesting to see who turns out to participate in the auction, but as evidenced by the minimum opening bids, there’s still plenty of value in a full power television construction permit and the cable and satellite must-carry rights that go along with it.