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Monday, September 25, 2006

March FCC Auction - 124 New FM Stations Up for Grabs

On the heels of the FCC's announced January, 2007 FM auction in which only 9 FM stations are to be auction (most being auctioned for the second time around), the FCC has announced an auction of 124 FM construction permits to commence on March 7, 2007. At this point, the Commission has released a Public Notice proposing procedures for the auction, and a listing (spreadsheet listing) of the 124 allocations.

There is an important change in procedures in this auction from previous FM auctions. The FCC has changed its auction rules so that now the payment procedures are as follows: (1) the upfront payment specified in the listing must be wired to the FCC on a date to be announced prior to the auction; (2) ten business days after the auction closing public notice an amount representing 20% of an applicant's winning bids as a down payment must be wired to the FCC; and (3) ten business days after the down payment date the remaining full bid amount must be wired to the FCC. This new procedure was adopted in Implementation of the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act and Modernization of the Commission's Competitive Bidding Rules and Procedures

This new payment schedule is to be contrasted with the FCC's previous FM auction procedures under which the remaining 80% payment was not due until the FCC was ready to grant the construction permit. Thus, a substantial time could elapse between making full payment and actually receiving a grant of the FM construction permit.

The FCC application procedures require that an FCC Form 175 be filed in order to participate in the FM auction by a date yet to be set. After becoming a winning bidder at the auction, the complete FM construction permit application (FCC Form 301) will be due thirty days after the FCC's auction closing public notice.

Applicants who are proposing new tower construction should keep in mind that significant new procedures are required for environmental approvals prior to the FCC issuing the construction permit. If you would like assistance with this FM auction, send me an email message (John Garziglia) and I will let you more.

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