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New FM Construction Permit Auction Set for April 2020

Auction 106 will include 130 FM broadcast allotment construction permits

A new round of construction permits are about to be up for auction.

The Media Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission introduced Auction 106, a new FM broadcast construction permit auction scheduled to commence on April 28, 2020.

Auction 106 will offer 130 construction permits for FM broadcast allotments, including 34 permits that were either defaulted upon or not sold or in earlier FCC auctions. The commission released a list of those vacant FM allotments, which include teeny Texas hamlets like Milano, Texas, population app. 400, as well as populous urban thoroughfares like Coalinga, Calif.

The bureau plans to follow the commission’s standard auction procedures — a multiple-round auction format that offers every construction permit bid at the same time and consists of successive bidding rounds in which qualified bidders can place bids on individual permits. Bidding usually remains open until bidding stops on all permits.

The auction will be conducted over the internet using the FCC auction bidding system, although bidders will also have the option of placing bids by phone. The bureau is also proposing to stop, slow or speed up the bidding if the process is proceeding at either a sluggish or a too rapid pace.

As in earlier auctions, the bureau proposes that applicants submit upfront payments as a prerequisite to becoming qualified to bid.

But before things kick off, the bureau and the Office of Economics and Analytics is seeking comment on a variety of auction-specific procedures relating to Auction 106 — including the proposed open bidding process, how much upfront payment should be required for each CP and the proposed opening bid amounts.

The price range for construction permits in Auction 106 vary wildly. On the low end sits permits for $750, such as ones in Wamsutter, Wy., and San Isidro, Texas. Compare that to the upfront payment of $100,000 — and the subsequent minimum opening bid of $100,000 — for a CP in California’s capital city of Sacramento. Mid-level bids include Huntington, Ore., for $45,000; West Rutland, Vt., for $25,000; and Gackle, N.D., for $15,000.

The initial bidding schedule will be announced one week before bidding starts via a public notice.

Comments on Auction 106 can be made through the FCC ECFS filing system using AU Docket No 19-290. The commission is also requesting that all comments be submitted electronically via the email [email protected].

FM broadcasters who have questions can reach out to the Audio Division within the Media Bureau at 1-202-418-2700.