112 new FM channels will be available in the next auction for new FM channels (referred to by the FCC as "Auction 94") to be held beginning April 23, 2013. To participate, interested parties must file their "short form" applications – setting out information about the ownership of the applicant and the channels in which they are interested – by February 6, 2003. All of the procedures for the auction are set out in the order released late Wednesday, available here. The locations of the available channels, authorizing the winners to build new FM stations  serving the named communities and the nearby area, are also set out in this attachment to the order. The notice adopts many of the same procedures set out when the Commission first proposed the auction back in September (see our article here). However, the Commission pushed the auction back the initially scheduled date for the auction by about a month to avoid religious holidays and the NAB Convention, ending up with the new starting date of April 23. The Commission also pushed back other dates associated with the auction, deleted a handful of channels that had been proposed for inclusion in the auction but had not been properly published in the Federal Register, and announced other decisions relating to the auction – all with many cautions for those who may be bidding about the possible pitfalls of the auction process.

The relevant auction dates are as follows:

Auction Tutorial Available (via Internet) …………………….January 28, 2013

Short-Form Application (FCC Form 175)

Filing Window Opens ……………………………………………….January 28, 2013; 12:00 noon ET

Short-Form Application (FCC Form 175)

Filing Window Deadline……………………………………………February 6, 2013; prior to 6:00 p.m. ET

Upfront Payments (via wire transfer)…………………………..March 18, 2013; 6:00 p.m. ET

Mock Auction ………………………………………………………….April 19, 2013

Auction Begins…………………………………………………………April 23, 2013

The most important dates for bidders are the deadline for the submission of the "short-form" application of February 6, the date for the Upfront Payments, and of course the dates for the start of the auction itself. The short-form lists the owners, any bidding agreements that the parties have with other bidders, and the channels in which the party is interested in bidding. The bidder can also submit specific proposed transmitter site coordinates for any channel in which they are bidding, which protects those named sites from moves by other existing stations that could otherwise preclude their use.   The failure to meet this February 6 deadline means that a party cannot participate in the auction.


Continue Reading FCC Sets Deadlines and Procedures for the April 2013 Auction of 112 New FM Channels – February 6 Deadline for Applications to Participate

Do you want to start a new FM station?   In what seems to have become a yearly event, the FCC has released a list of 117 new FM channels to be auctioned (a list that also includes the proposed minimum bid for each channel). The FCC also issued a “freeze” on FM applications that could impact these channels. The auction itself is scheduled to begin on March 26, 2013. If the Commission follows the schedule used in the last FM auction, we should expect that the deadline for the "short-form" application to participate in the auction (which basically contains information about the ownership of the applicant and a list of the channels in which they are interested) will be due in early 2013, likely sometime between January 1 and January 15, 2013. The upfront payment of the necessary minimum bids would then likely be due around February 20, 2013.

The channels in this auction on which new stations can be built are spread all across the country. Many are located in large western states, including multiple channels in California, Oklahoma, Arizona and Texas, among other states. If you are interested in starting a station from scratch, look through this list of channels to see if there are opportunities for a construction permit for a new station in an area of interest. If you find something that you might consider, you need to start your due diligence on each channel now, as any bidder is responsible for insuring that the channel for which they are bidding can be built and will serve the audience that you expect. If you win the auction and decide that you can’t really find a transmitter site, then you may well be on the hook for the full amount of the bid even if you don’t build the station. And, if you are successful in the auction, you will have to have an available transmitter site to specify in your "long-form" application submitted about a month after the end of the auction – an application that will specify all of the technical details of the new station. So look at zoning issues, FAA considerations, coverage questions, and even whether technical details like the rural radio order limiting move-ins of FM stations from rural to more urban areas, may limit the potential economic value of the channel in which you are interested.


Continue Reading FCC Announces Auction for 117 New FM Channels – And Freezes Certain FM Applications that Could Affect Those Channels

Looking for opportunities for a new FM station?  The FCC has just released a list of new FM channels to be auctioned in the next FM auction, scheduled to begin on March 27, 2012, along with the proposed rules for that auction.  On the list of channels, the proposed minimum bid for each channel is also set out.  If the Commission follows the schedule used in prior auctions, we should expect that the deadline for the "short-form" application to participate in the auction (which basically contains information about the ownership of the applicant and a list of the channels in which they are interested) will be due in early 2012, likely sometime between January 1 and January 15, 2012.  The upfront payment of the necessary minimum bids would then likely be due around February 20, 2012 or so.  In another Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released late last week, the FCC also proposed to delete a number of FM channels that have gone unsold in previous auctions.

The construction permits for the new stations that will be available in the auction are spread all across the country.  Many are located in large western states including multiple channels in California, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas, among other states.  But there are even opportunities in eastern states like Florida, Vermont and Virginia.  So, if you are interested in starting a station from scratch, look through this list of channels to see if there are opportunities for a construction permit for a new station in which you might be interested.  If you find something that might be interesting, you need to start your due diligence on each channel now, as the bidder is responsible for insuring that the channel for which they are bidding can be built and will serve the audience that the applicant expects.  If you win the auction and decide that you can’t really find a transmitter site, then you may well be on the hook for the full amount of the bid even if you don’t build the station.  And, if you are successful in the auction, you will have to have an available transmitter site to specify in your "long-form" application about a month after the end of the auction – an application which will specify all of the technical details of the new station.  So look at zoning issues, FAA considerations, coverage questions, and even whether technical details like the rural radio order limiting move-ins of FM stations from rural to more urban areas, may limit the potential economic value of the channel in which you are interested. 


Continue Reading Auction for New FM Stations Scheduled for March – Look for Filing Deadline Late This Year – FCC Also Proposes Deletion of Channels for Which No Bids Were Received

Applications to participate in the auction of 144 new FM channels are to be filed at the FCC between January 31 and February 10, 2011.  The FCC today released a Public Notice setting out the dates and procedures to be used in the auction.  Upfront payments of the minimum bids for channels in the auction will be due on March 21.  The auction itself will begin on April 27 – a postponement of about a month from the dates originally proposed as the initially scheduled dates could have resulted in the auction running through this year’s NAB Convention, making it difficult for some entities to participate.  We had written about the initial announcement of the proposed auction here.  Note that the list of channels available in the auction has changed slightly, as a few channels originally listed for sale were deleted when it was discovered that they were not vacant or were otherwise not available to be sold.  Thus, the auction will include only 144 channels, not the 147 originally proposed.  The list of open channels is available here, and this list also sets out the minimum bids established for each channel.

To freeze the FCC database so as to allow applicants in the filing window to specify a transmitter site that will be protected from new applications, the FCC will freeze the filing of all applications for minor changes to existing FM stations during the filing window.  Thus, if you need a technical change in an FM station, get that application on file before the January 31-February 10 window.  The FCC Issued a Public Notice setting out the details of the freeze.  After the window, all subsequently filed applications for minor changes in existing stations will need to protect sites specified for the new channels during the window.  The FCC also froze – effective right now – any rulemaking proposal asking for a change in the coordinates assigned to any of the channels to be sold in the auction. 


Continue Reading FCC Announces Filing Window and Minimum Bids for Next Auction for 144 New FM Stations – And a Freeze on FM Minor Change Applications

The dates and minimum bids are set – and the next auction for new FM stations is a go for September 1, 2009Applications to participate in the auction are due during the period June 16 to June 25, and must be filed electronically at the FCC, specifying on which of the 122 available channels an applicant is interested in bidding. Full, detailed auction instructions can be found in the FCC’s Public Notice, and the list of available channels and the minimum bids for each is available here. To give time for applicants to prepare their applications, the Commission has also initiated a variety of freezes on the filing of certain FM applications.

A freeze on any application or Petition for Rulemaking seeking a change in the channel of any channel proposed for use in this auction has been imposed effective immediately. Applications that shortspace any of the reference points for any of these stations are also barred. A subsequent freeze on the filing of any minor change application by an FM licensee will also be imposed during the June window. These freezes are to give applicants for channels the opportunity to evaluate which channels are worth bidding for, and to specify specific transmitter sites for certain channels (different than the reference coordinates) which will be protected during the auction process. Thus, applicants who see the potential for an increase in value of one of these channels that may come through the location of the station at a particular transmitter site can specify that site, protecting it and the value that they see. 


Continue Reading Rules for September Auction for New FM Stations Set – Application Filing Deadline Is June 25