Incentive auctions still years away


Wells FargoWashington insiders say that setting up incentive auctions in the television space is the #1 priority right now, but note it will be awhile before they actually take place.

Analysts from Wells Fargo spoke with personnel at key congessional committees and federal agencies, who confirmed the focus on the issue of repurposing television spectrum to promote mobile broadband.

Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker noted the following key points in the discussion:

* The FCC is working to issue several NPRMs on the topic by this fall.

* It is hoped that the auctions will be highly competitive, and AT&T and Verizon prepared to put forward “lots of money for lots of spectrum,” while being balanced out by other bidders.

* Indies, second-sister stations in local duopolies and noncoms are expected to be the most likely candidates to return spectrum and reap auction proceeds.

* The government participants in the discussion are looking at kick-off three years down the road.

* Wells Fargo, on the other hands, think five or more years until kick-off is a more likely scenario.

* Whatever the goals of the auctions, they will have to withstand scrutiny from the CBO.