FCC Sets 84 MHz Clearing Target for Stage IV of Auction

WASHINGTON—Next Tuesday, Dec. 13, will see the start of stage IV of the Broadcast Television Spectrum Incentive Auction, with a new clearing target of 84 MHz. The commission has also announced a handful of rule changes to the bidding process from previous rounds.

After stage III, with 108 MHz clearing target, closed quickly on Dec. 5, the FCC has once again lowered it to find something broadcasters and wireless companies can agree on. In addition, after the reverse auction closes for stage IV, the commission has announced that the spectrum will translate to a uniform 70 MHz supply of unimpaired spectrum for forward auction bidders to vie for in all 416 partial economic areas, with stations not required to be located in the wireless band or duplex gap or guard bands, which is reportedly supposed to reduce the chance for post-auction interference among services.

A number of rule changes have also been announced involving the bidding process. Rounds at the beginning of the round will now be one hour instead of two, and starting on Dec. 19, three rounds will take place a day rather than two.

The clock price has also been adjusted, now coming in at $900. This means that at least one station that has never bid will now have to start accepting lower prices. This is a result of the FCC reducing the amount of spectrum it is clearing and thus has more space in which to repack broadcasters.

The FCC is required to keep the auction going until the forward auction bidders at least match the broadcasters’ asking price. At the start of the auction it was $86 billion, it then dropped to $55 billion, and most recently fell to $40 billion.

For more, check out TV Technology's spectrum auction silo.