FCC Prepares to Auction AM and FM Radio Construction Permits, Seeks Comments on Procedures

The FCC will auction four AM and 136 FM construction permits beginning on July 27, 2021. A list of the available construction permits in the auction, known as Auction 109, is available here. Auction 109 includes the FM radio permits that were previously included in Auction 106, which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, plus the four AM permits and six additional FM permits. Short-form applications to participate will likely be due in May 2021 and upfront payments will likely be due in June 2021.

The FCC is currently seeking comments on the Auction 109 procedures, including:

• Conducting the auction using a simultaneous multiple-round auction format.

• Requiring bidders to submit upfront payments for specific construction permits as a prerequisite to qualifying for the auction, and then using the amount of the upfront payments to determine a participant’s bidding units, which measure bidding eligibility.

• Allowing a bidder to place bids on multiple construction permits, if the total number of bidding units for those permits does not exceed the bidder’s current eligibility.

• Requiring bidders to bid actively throughout the auction by implementing an “activity rule.” Bidders would be required to be active on a specific percentage of their current bidding eligibility during each round of the auction.

• Setting a minimum opening bid amount, but not separate reserve prices.

• Allowing a bidder to remove (or “unsubmit”) any bid placed prior to the close of a bidding round but prohibiting a bidder from withdrawing a bid after the close of the round.

The FCC also imposed a freeze on the filing of FM applications that could impact the channels to be auctioned. No applications or proposals that would request a change in one of the channels, or which would be short-spaced to one of the reference coordinates for these allocations, can be filed.

Comments are due March 15, 2021, with reply comments due March 22, 2021.

If you would like more information about Auction 109 or the proposed auction bidding procedures, please contact any attorney in our office.

Categories: Broadcast and Media

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