FCC Auction: What Will You Do With Your $221-Million?

When the FCC published on October 16 the TV spectrum auction starting prices, you have to believe a number of San Diego station general managers were dreaming of what they would do with the money. KSWB-TV had the highest listed price for abandoning its channel 19 spot at $221.5-million. All infomercial low power broadcaster KSEX-CD came in at $146-million. K35DG-D, the 300 watt flamethrower of UCSD’s has a starting bid of $91-million.

Of course these figures mean nothing. Stations will need to submit an auction application by December 18 and commit to either relinquishing their license or agreeing to move to a different frequency by the end of March. Stations can drop out before March 29.

What stations actually get will be determined in a reverse auction, with telecom bidders paying the highest they think the spectrum is worth over time, but likely much lower than the opening prices, which are meant to attract interest from reluctant broadcast business owners.

For some broadcasters, the decision will be easy. CBS gets rid of channel 43 in Los Angeles to retreat to their second property at channel 9–done! Fox sells KCOP channel 11 to continue on 13 only–good as gold. Should KSEX-CD take $20- to $30-million and abandon its pea-shooter? Let’s see–YES! Others like KFMB and KGTV are more likely to hold on to their VHF slots and rent their spectrum to those retreating from UHF channels.

Let the selling begin.