Decision Time on the Incentive Auction

Today wraps up an important week for the Incentive Public sale with the release of two vital items: the Application Procedures Public Notice and the final opening bid costs for broadcast stations.

Earlier today Chairman Wheeler called this a “watershed moment” just for auction participants, and he’s specifically right. Broadcasters and potential forward auction participants now have in their fingers all of the information they will need to determine whether to participate in the public sale. We have set 6 p. m. on December 18, 2015 , as the date by which interested broadcasters must file their own applications; forward auction bidders must file by 6 p. m. on January 28, 2016 .

After years of planning and deliberations, this thing is real. The Application Treatments PN is the “How to Apply” manual for reverse and forward auction participants. It explains learn how to complete and submit the programs, and provides a detailed schedule of pre-auction bidder education and training activities. It contains detailed attachments covering matters such as the technical details regarding the procedure for determining the spectrum clearing focus on, the algorithms for the reverse plus forward auction bid processing determination procedure, and the bidding units just for determining upfront payments and minimal opening bids in the forward public sale. Concurrently with the Application Procedures PN, additional data and information related to the incentive auction, including the last interference “constraints” and the associated supporting files, have been made available on the Public sale 1000 website (

Today’s release of opening bid prices for broadcasters completes the particular package. For each eligible station, the particular Incentive Auction Task Force has furnished prices for each of the possible bid options available to a station: the option for the station to relinquish its license in full, the option for a UHF station to move to a high-VHF channel, or the option for a UHF or high-VHF station to move to a low-VHF station. Over the past year, we have met with many broadcasters across the country who wanted to better understand the auction and the opportunities this presents. As of today, each potential individual knows the price at which we would begin the bidding for their stations. Now it’s decision time.

What happens next? As we noted within August, the Task Force and the Sales Division will continue our bidder education efforts, which will include a number of webinars, practice sessions, and mock auctions that will begin even before the application deadlines. Once applications are filed, FCC staff will review all of them for accuracy and completeness. Upon March 29, 2016, broadcasters that filed an application from the December 18, 2015, deadline which is deemed complete will make their initial bid commitment as well as the auction will begin. In the intervening months, as Chairman Wheeler indicated nowadays, Task Force and Commission personnel stand ready to assist potential buyers as they prepare to participate in this historic auction.

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