Two TV Players Reveal Spectrum Auction Windfall


21st Century FoxFox Television Stations, the broadcast TV unit of 21st Century Fox, is the second company to publicly reveal its take from the FCC’s recently completed Reverse Auction.

Tribune Media Co. is the third company to share its auction proceeds.

How did each company do?

Fox anticipates receiving approximately $350 million, it said Wednesday morning.

The anticipated proceeds reflect the FCC’s acceptance of one or more bids placed by Fox Television Stations during the auction to relinquish spectrum used by some of its television stations.

Fox says the spectrum sale is not expected to lead to any material change in the operations or results for Fox Television Stations, or for any of the affected television markets. It expects to receive the proceeds by the end of 2017.

Tribune anticipates the receipt of approximately $190 million in pre-tax proceeds resulting from the spectrum auction.tribune-media-2017

Like Fox, the anticipated proceeds reflect the FCC’s acceptance of one or more bids placed by Tribune Media or channel share partners of O&O TV stations during the auction to modify and/or surrender spectrum used by some of its TV stations. The results of the auction are not expected to produce any material change in operations or results for Tribune.

The news comes after Gray Television on Tuesday said it would pocket some $90,824,000 in proceeds from the Reverse Auction.

Meanwhile, bidding in the Forward Auction accelerated on Wednesday (2/8), with the commencement of six 40-minute sessions — a change designed to wrap up bidding expeditiously.

As of Round 43 of Stage 4 of the Forward Auction, auction proceeds are $19,524,067,702.


Concurrently, an informal comment was just filed with the FCC by OTA Broadcasting urging the Commission “to harness free market forces to help to streamline and to expedite the post 600 MHz auction channel repacking transition.”

Specifically, OTA urges the Commission to release the tools that it has developed to assign post-auction channels, the tools that it has developed to assign broadcast stations to transition phases, and any and all other tools and data that can be helpful in identifying stations that present a potential “bottleneck” to the transition. It then asks the Commission to eliminate certain “linked station sets.”

While OTA commends the Commission for developing “an excellent phased plan for the post-600 MHz auction transition,” it believes that, “despite these best efforts by the Commission, many parties in both the broadcasting and wireless industries have expressed well-grounded concerns that the transition will fall behind schedule and that the 39 month goal will not be achieved.”

According to one auction observer who requested anonymity, “Even after the auction there are many marginal stations clogging the transition that can be removed by market forces if the FCC will just release the ‘road map’ embedded in its repacking tools.”

OTA Broadcasting was formed in early 2011 to own and operate independent television stations in large markets throughout the U.S. Its stations include KMIR-36, the NBC affiliate in Palm Springs, Calif., and MeTV affiliate KVOS-12 in Seattle.