Act Now! FCC to Auction New FM Radio Stations

Less than one month remains until the close of the filing window to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s upcoming auction of 144 FM broadcast construction permits to the public.  The auction is scheduled to begin on April 27, 2011.  Applicants interested in participating in the auction must file an application with the FCC between January 31, 2011 and February 10, 2011.

The construction permits are associated with so-called “vacant” FM allotments. The FCC has assigned certain FM channels to certain communities via allotment, and the FCC will auction the rights to build FM radio facilities using these channels.  Of the 144 vacant FM allotments in this auction, 37 are holdovers from the last FM auction.  This means that no party placed the minimum bid for these vacant allotments before the last auction closed. The minimum bid for the majority of the allotments is $25,000 or less.  Only 14 of the allotments have minimum bids of at least $60,000. Seven allotments have minimum bids of $100,000. Three allotments have minimum bids of $60,000 and four allotments have minimum bids of $75,000.

The application must include ownership information about the applicant; identify the vacant allotments for which the applicant intends to bid, and whether the applicant has any agreements with other parties regarding the auction.  Under the FCC’s anti-collusion rules, applicants are prohibited from discussing their applications, including bidding strategies, with other applicants in the auction, unless each applicant identifies the other in their application.  This prohibition applies to each applicant until the auction is closed.

Time is of the essence.  Although the auction is more than three months away, interested parties must file their applications for the auction by February 10.  These applications are not placeholders for the auction; the application locks in the applicant’s qualifications to bid in the auction, identifies the allotments on which the applicant may bid, and any bidding arrangements applicants might have with third parties.  Applicants will not be able to amend their applications after February 10 to improve their situation in the auction.  Advance preparation now is necessary.