On 12/6, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler released commentary in a blog on the FCC website indicating that the broadcast incentive auction is likely to take place in mid-2015 vs. the previous goal of year-end 2014. The biggest reasons for the delay are to ensure that the process is as transparent as possible, that the software is tested thoroughly and is user-friendly to the auction participants–which will be mostly station owners and wireless providers.
In the blog, Wheeler also provided a timeline:
— Early January 2014 – the FCC will release a proposed Report and Order that provides specific policy recommendations
— Spring 2014 – the FCC will vote on the Report and Order
–Second Half of 2014 – the FCC will release an Auction Comment Public Notice and Procedures Public Notice outlining the specific auction rules
— Throughout 2014 and 2015 – there will be software demonstrations as well as ”mock auctions” to ensure that the technology is functioning properly.
Said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith in response: “NAB appreciates Chairman Wheeler’s decision to set new goals for the Commission’s incentive auction timeline. As NAB has long maintained, given the complexity of the auction and its many moving parts, the most important goal is to get the auction done right. We look forward to continuing our efforts with the Commission and industry stakeholders as we work towards achieving a successful auction that delivers spectrum for broadband while ensuring a vibrant future for broadcasting.”
Noted Wells Fargo Securities Senior Analyst Marci Ryvicker: “We are not surprised by this ~6 month delay and believe it was expected by the market. The reverse and forward incentive auction is the first of its kind with a multitude of complexities. We actually think that the longer this auction is delayed, the better it is for those with unused spectrum (we would highlight DISH here). It also gives the broadcasters more information to determine their likelihood of participation.”