An FM Broadcast Auction Is On The Horizon


By Lee Petro
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

The FCC on Thursday announced that it will hold a full-power FM Broadcast auction for 130 new construction permits starting on April 28.

For now, the FCC is seeking comment on the procedures for the auction, although it does not propose any significant changes from past FM broadcast auctions.

In connection with the auction, the FCC also announced a filing freeze prohibiting minor change applications, petitions, or counter-proposals directly affecting or failing to protect the construction permits to be auctioned.

A majority of the construction permits will be for lower-power Class A facilities, but there are 28 new facilities that are authorized to operate at 25 kW or higher.

For example, a Class B facility in Sacramento will be available, along with stations on the outskirts of major cities like Dallas (a Class C3 facility at 104.1 MHz in Sanger, Tex., north of Denton) and a Raymond, Wash., Class A would cover areas to the west of Olympia, Wash., within the Seattle-Tacoma DMA.

[Editor’s Note: The Sacramento facility is the former home of KDND-FM, at 107.9 kHz. Entercom voluntarily surrendered the station’s license to the FCC in order to resolve a complaint tied to an infamous “Hold your Wee for a Wii” promotion, which resulted in the death of a contestant. The action was also prompted by Entercom’s need to obtain regulatory approval of its Reverse Morris Trust-fueled tax free merger with CBS Radio. More can be found here:]

Overall, Texas is home to the most available permits (32), with numerous opportunities also available in Wyoming (11), California (10), and Arizona (8).

The 107.9 MHz facility in Sacramento is clearly the most valuable, with a minimum opening bid of $100,000 and bidding units of $100,000 assigned to the facility.

The minimum bid for the DFW Metroplex signal is $75,000, as is the case for a Class C1 FM at 99.3 in Pembroke, Ga., that would serve the Savannah, Ga., market.

Also with a $75,000 minimum bid is a Class A at 94.1 MHz licensed to Keeseville, N.Y. This station would cover much of the Burlington, Vt.-Plattsburgh, N.Y. listening area and serve as a first-adjacency to CKMF-FM 94.3 in Montréal.

Parties seeking to file comments regarding the list of available construction permits and/or the auction procedures should submit them by November 6, 2019. 

Reply comments are due November 20, 2019. 

After reviewing the record, the FCC will release the final list of available permits and auction procedures, most likely in early January 2020.

— Additional reporting by Adam R Jacobson