[WARNING! While Auction 91 has closed, strict anti-collusion rules remain in effect for several more weeks. Parties who were involved in any way in the auction should refrain from discussing any aspect of the auction with any other parties who were involved in it.]
Going once, going twice, SOLD! It’s official. After two weeks of bidding, the FCC has brought down the gavel on Auction 91. The 144 FM construction permits (well, most of the 144) on the block attracted $10.5 million in successful bids overall – although the Commission will net less than that because of “new entrant” bidding credits available to some of the winning bidders. The total proceeds likely to be realized from the auction should be in the range of $8.5 million. The auction wrapped up on May 11, eleven bidding days after the opening round. A total of 66 different bidders ended up winners.
The next step in the auction process will be the release of a public notice establishing deadlines by which the winning bidders must wire their payments to the Treasury. The public notice will also establish the deadline by which winning bidders must submit their long-form applications to the FCC and the date on which the FCC’s anti-collusion provisions will be lifted.
Only one permit – in Lawrence Park, Pennsylvania, on the outskirts of Erie – fetched more than a million dollars. It came in at a final net bid of $1,344,200. Generally, the relatively low bidding levels may reflect the state of the economy or possible concern about the risks of starting up new stations at this time. Of the 108 permits that were won, 21 of the permits had no bids other than on the first day and 34 permits sold with net bids of less than $10,000. Two permits, in Cedarville, CA, and Dickens, TX, sold for less than a thousand dollars.
By contrast, the FM auction four years ago saw the Treasury bank $21 million in auction proceeds from the sale of 111 permits. And a 2004 auction of 258 permits filled the government coffers with $148 million.
Of note, more than a dozen permits that went unsold from the auction two years ago finally sold this time around – presumably thanks to the fact that the FCC cut the opening bid by at least half for most of them. However, more than 20 permits have now been offered twice by the FCC and have attracted no bids at all. For example, Thomas, Oklahoma, went unsold in 2009, when it was listed for $50,000; the Commission slashed the price to $25,000 this year and there were still no takers. Overall, of the 144 permits that were put on the auction block, three dozen went unsold and may be recycled into the next auction.
We’ll keep readers posted as the next FCC auction of FM permits arrives – but that probably won’t be for another couple of years.