FCC Will Unveil Forward Auction Bidders Mid-July

According to the report in Broadcasting & Cable, the FCC stated that it would reveal the final list of eligible bidders in the forward portion of the broadcast incentive auction. Upfront payments from the approximately 100 bidders who are eligible to bid and subject to those payments were due to the FCC by July 1.

“Once we’ve validated which applicants have made payments, we will release a list (in a public notice) of qualified bidders in mid-July,” announced Chair of the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force Gary Epstein. Since the FCC decreed that the forward auction cannot begin for 15 business days after the public notice, which puts the earliest start of the forward auction in mid-August.

The clearing cost for TV broadcasters’ airwaves is a staggering $86.4 billion. That price must be met by carriers and would-be wireless service providers in aggregate to acquire spectrum licenses during the forward auction.  According to Broadcasting  & Cable, that figure “is sure to prompt speculation that bidders in the forward auction will not pony up enough to cover it.”

One analyst was quoted as saying, “Given the current financial profile of the industry, this number ($86.4 billion) may have to become significantly lower. A second stage of the reverse auction later this year is likely. Indeed, we could well see the proceedings drag on into early 2017 before coming to a final conclusion.”

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