122 FM CPs set for auction to start on September 1, 2009

Heads up, all you radio folks who have had to sit on the sidelines while the DTV transition got all the attention!! The Commission has announced that the next auction of FM broadcast permits has been scheduled to start on September 1, 2009. Mark your calendars and get your checkbooks ready.

A total of 122 CPs will be on the block. A complete list of the channels/markets involved can be found here.

The public notice is the first step in a standard process which the Commission has historically used in connection with its broadcast auctions. The notice: (a) sets forth the auction methodology which the FCC proposes to use – it appears at first glance to be essentially the same methodology used in earlier auctions, and (b) lists the CPs for sale and ascribes minimum opening bid values to each. The notice also serves as an invitation for public comment about both methodology questions and the specific minimum bid values. Comments are due no later than March 20, 2009, and reply comments by April 1.

Once those dates have passed and the Commission has had an opportunity to address any comments filed, it will issue a further notice providing more detail about the schedule of auction activities, including deadlines for initial applications, upfront payments and the like.

A word of caution. Since the FCC has bothered to include this bold-face disclaimer in its notice, we figure we should pass it along straight from the horse’s mouth:

The FCC makes no representations or warranties about the use of this spectrum for particular services. Applicants should be aware that an FCC auction represents an opportunity to become an FCC construction permittee in the broadcast service, subject to certain conditions and regulations. An FCC auction does not constitute an endorsement by the FCC of any particular service, technology, or product, nor does an FCC construction permit or license constitute a guarantee of business success.

While September may seem well into the distant future at this point, anyone who might have any interest at all in participating in the auction should begin immediately to get familiar with the process.