Federal Communications Commission.
This document announces the auction of certain VHF construction permits scheduled to commence on February 15, 2011 (Auction 90). This document also seeks comment on competitive bidding procedures for Auction 90.
Comments are due on or before September 30, 2010, and reply comments are due on or before October 15, 2010.
You may submit comments, identified by AU Docket No. 10-147, by any of the following methods:Start Printed Page 57948
- Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
- Federal Communications Commission's Web Site: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
- Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and four copies of each filing. Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Attn: WTB/ASAD, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
- All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St., SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes must be disposed of before entering the building.
- Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
- People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language interpreters, CART, etc.) by e-mail: FCC504@fcc.gov or telephone: 202-418-0530 or TTY: 202-418-0432.
- The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau requests that a copy of all comments and reply comments be submitted electronically to the following address: email@example.com.
- People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language interpreters, CART, etc.) by e-mail: FCC504@fcc.gov or phone: 202-418-0530 or TTY: 202-418-0432.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, Auctions and Spectrum Access Division: For auction legal questions: Howard Davenport at (202) 418-0660; for general auction questions: Jeff Crooks at (202) 418-2074 or Barbara Sibert at (717) 338-2868. Media Bureau, Video Division: for service rules questions: Shaun Maher or Adrienne Denysyk at (202) 418-1600.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
This is a summary of the Auction 90 Comment Public Notice released on September 8, 2010. The complete text of the Auction 90 Comment Public Notice, including an attachment and related Commission documents, is available for public inspection and copying from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET Monday through Thursday or from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET on Fridays in the FCC Reference Information Center, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. The Auction 90 Comment Public Notice and related Commission documents also may be purchased from the Commission's duplicating contractor, Best Copy and Printing, Inc. (BCPI), 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554, telephone 202-488-5300, fax 202-488-5563, or you may contact BCPI at its Web site: http://www.BCPIWEB.com. When ordering documents from BCPI, please provide the appropriate FCC document number, for example, DA 10-1351. The Auction 90 Comment Public Notice and related documents also are available on the Internet at the Commission's Web site: http://wireless.fcc.gov/auctions/90/, or by using the search function for AU Docket No.10-147 on the ECFS Web page at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/.
1. The Wireless Telecommunications and the Media Bureaus (the Bureaus) announce an auction of two digital very high frequency (VHF) commercial television station construction permits. This auction, which is designated Auction 90, is scheduled to commence on February 15, 2011.
II. Construction Permits in Auction 90
2. Auction 90 will offer construction permits for two VHF commercial television stations as follows:
|MM-DTV012-4||Atlantic City, NJ||DTV 4|
|MM-DTV013-5||Seaford, DE||DTV 5|
III. Due Diligence
3. Potential bidders are reminded that they are solely responsible for investigating and evaluating all technical and marketplace factors that may have a bearing on the value of the construction permits for broadcast facilities they are seeking in this auction. Bidders are responsible for assuring themselves that, if they win a construction permit, they will be able to build and operate facilities in accordance with the Commission's rules.
4. Applicants should perform their due diligence research and analysis before proceeding, as they would with any new business venture. In particular, potential bidders are strongly encouraged to review all underlying Commission orders. The Bureaus note that both of the permits being offered in this auction are available pursuant to allocations made pursuant to Section 331(a) of the Communications Act. Therefore, each station must remain on a VHF channel as long as the station is the only commercial VHF station in its State. Additionally, potential bidders should perform technical analyses and/or refresh any previous analyses to assure themselves that, should they be a winning bidder for any Auction 90 construction permit, they will be able to build and operate facilities that will fully comply with the Commission's current technical and legal requirements.
5. Applicants are strongly encouraged to conduct their own research prior to Auction 90 in order to determine the existence of pending administrative or judicial proceedings, including pending allocations rulemaking proceedings that might affect their decisions regarding participation in the auction.
6. Participants in Auction 90 are strongly encouraged to continue such research throughout the auction. The due diligence considerations mentioned in the Auction 90 Comment Public Notice does not comprise an exhaustive list of steps that should be undertaken prior to participating in this auction. As always, the burden is on the potential bidder to determine how much research to undertake, depending upon specific facts and circumstances.
IV. Bureaus Seek Comment on Auction Procedures
A. Auction Structure
i. Simultaneous Multiple-Round Auction Design
7. The Bureaus propose to auction the two construction permits included in Auction 90 using the Commission's standard simultaneous multiple-round auction format. This type of auction offers every construction permit for bid at the same time and consists of successive bidding rounds in which eligible bidders may place bids on individual construction permits. Typically, bidding remains open on all construction permits until bidding stops on every construction permit. The Bureaus seek comment on this proposal.
ii. Bidding Rounds
8. Auction 90 will consist of sequential bidding rounds, each followed by the release of round results. The initial bidding schedule will be announced in a public notice to be released at least one week before the start of the auction. Details on viewing round results, including the location and format of downloadable round Start Printed Page 57949results files, will be included in the same public notice.
9. The Commission will conduct Auction 90 over the Internet, and telephonic bidding will be available as well. The toll-free telephone number for the Auction Bidder Line will be provided to qualified bidders.
10. The Bureaus propose to retain the discretion to change the bidding schedule in order to foster an auction pace that reasonably balances speed with the bidders' need to study round results and adjust their bidding strategies. Under this proposal, the Bureaus may change the amount of time for the bidding rounds, the amount of time between rounds, or the number of rounds per day, depending upon bidding activity and other factors. The Bureaus seek comment on this proposal. Commenters may wish to address the role of the bidding schedule in managing the pace of the auction and the tradeoffs in managing auction pace by bidding schedule changes, by changing the activity requirements or bid amount parameters, or by using other means.
iii. Stopping Rule
11. For Auction 90, the Bureaus propose to employ a simultaneous stopping rule approach. A simultaneous stopping rule means that all construction permits remain available for bidding until bidding closes simultaneously on all construction permits. More specifically, bidding will close simultaneously on all construction permits after the first round in which no bidder submits any new bids, applies a proactive waiver, or withdraws any provisionally winning bids (if bid withdrawals are permitted in this auction). Thus, unless the Bureaus announce alternative procedures, bidding will remain open on all construction permits until bidding stops on every construction permit. Consequently, it is not possible to determine in advance how long the auction will last.
12. Further, the Bureaus propose to retain the discretion to exercise any of the following options during Auction 90: (1) Use a modified version of the simultaneous stopping rule. The modified stopping rule would close the auction for all construction permits after the first round in which no bidder applies a waiver, withdraws a provisionally winning bid (if withdrawals are permitted in this auction), or places any new bids on any construction permit for which it is not the provisionally winning bidder. Thus, absent any other bidding activity, a bidder placing a new bid on a construction permit for which it is the provisionally winning bidder would not keep the auction open under this modified stopping rule; (2) Declare that the auction will end after a specified number of additional rounds. If the Bureaus invoke this special stopping rule, they will accept bids in the specified final round(s), after which the auction will close; and (3) Keep the auction open even if no bidder places any new bids, applies a waiver, or withdraws any provisionally winning bids (if withdrawals are permitted in this auction). In this event, the effect will be the same as if a bidder had applied a waiver. The activity rule will apply as usual, and a bidder with insufficient activity will either lose bidding eligibility or use a waiver.
13. The Bureaus propose to exercise these options only in certain circumstances, for example, where the auction is proceeding unusually slowly or quickly, there is minimal overall bidding activity, or it appears likely that the auction will not close within a reasonable period of time or will close prematurely. Before exercising these options, the Bureaus are likely to attempt to change the pace of the auction by, for example, changing the number of bidding rounds per day and/or changing minimum acceptable bids. The Bureaus propose to retain the discretion to exercise any of these options with or without prior announcement during the auction. The Bureaus seek comment on these proposals.
iv. Information Relating to Auction Delay, Suspension, or Cancellation
14. For Auction 90, the Bureaus propose that, by public notice or by announcement during the auction, the Bureaus may delay, suspend, or cancel the auction in the event of natural disaster, technical obstacle, administrative or weather necessity, evidence of an auction security breach or unlawful bidding activity, or for any other reason that affects the fair and efficient conduct of competitive bidding. In such cases, the Bureaus, in their sole discretion, may elect to resume the auction starting from the beginning of the current round, resume the auction starting from some previous round, or cancel the auction in its entirety. Network interruption may cause the Bureaus to delay or suspend the auction. The Bureaus emphasize that exercise of this authority is solely within the discretion of the Bureaus, and its use is not intended to be a substitute for situations in which bidders may wish to apply their activity rule waivers. The Bureaus seek comment on this proposal.
B. Auction Procedures
i. Upfront Payments and Bidding Eligibility
15. For Auction 90, the Bureau proposes to make the upfront payments equal to the minimum opening bids. The specific upfront payments for each license are listed in Attachment A of the Auction 90 Comment Public Notice. The Bureau seeks comment on this proposal.
16. The Bureaus further propose that the amount of the upfront payment submitted by a bidder will determine the bidder's initial bidding eligibility in bidding units. The Bureaus propose that each construction permit be assigned a specific number of bidding units equal to the upfront payment listed in Attachment A of the Auction 90 Comment Public Notice, on a bidding unit per dollar basis. The number of bidding units for a given construction permit is fixed and does not change during the auction as prices change. A bidder may place bids on multiple construction permits, provided that the total number of bidding units associated with those construction permits does not exceed the bidder's current eligibility.
17. Eligibility cannot be increased during the auction; it can only remain the same or decrease. Thus, in calculating its upfront payment amount and hence its initial bidding eligibility, an applicant must determine the maximum number of bidding units on which it may wish to bid (or hold provisionally winning bids) in any single round, and submit an upfront payment amount covering that total number of bidding units. Provisionally winning bids are bids that would become final winning bids if the auction were to close in that given round. The Bureaus request comment on these proposals.
ii. Activity Rule
18. In order to ensure that the auction closes within a reasonable period of time, an activity rule requires bidders to bid actively throughout the auction, rather than wait until late in the auction before participating. A bidder's activity in a round will be the sum of the bidding units associated with any construction permits upon which it places bids during the current round and the bidding units associated with any construction permits for which it holds provisionally winning bids. Failure to maintain the requisite activity level will result in the use of an activity rule waiver, if any remain, or a Start Printed Page 57950reduction in the bidder's eligibility, possibly curtailing or eliminating the bidder's ability to place additional bids in the auction. The Bureaus seek comment on this proposal.
iii. Activity Rule Waivers and Reducing Eligibility
19. Use of an activity rule waiver preserves the bidder's eligibility despite the bidder's activity in the current round being below the required minimum level. An activity rule waiver applies to an entire round of bidding, not to a particular construction permit. Activity rule waivers can be either proactive or automatic and are principally a mechanism for auction participants to avoid the loss of bidding eligibility in the event that exigent circumstances prevent them from bidding in a particular round.
20. The FCC Auction System assumes that a bidder that does not meet the activity requirement would prefer to use an activity rule waiver (if available) rather than lose bidding eligibility. Therefore, the system will automatically apply a waiver at the end of any bidding round in which a bidder's activity level is below the minimum required unless: (1) The bidder has no activity rule waivers remaining; or (2) the bidder overrides the automatic application of a waiver by reducing eligibility, thereby meeting the activity requirement. If a bidder has no waivers remaining and does not satisfy the required activity level, its current eligibility will be permanently reduced, possibly curtailing or eliminating the bidder's ability to place additional bids in the auction.
21. A bidder with insufficient activity may wish to reduce its bidding eligibility rather than use an activity rule waiver. If so, the bidder must affirmatively override the automatic waiver mechanism during the bidding round by using the reduce eligibility function in the FCC Auction System. In this case, the bidder's eligibility is permanently reduced to bring the bidder into compliance with the activity rule. Reducing eligibility is an irreversible action; once eligibility has been reduced, a bidder will not be permitted to regain its lost bidding eligibility, even if the round has not yet closed.
22. Under the proposed simultaneous stopping rule, a bidder may apply an activity rule waiver proactively as a means to keep the auction open without placing a bid. If a bidder proactively applies an activity rule waiver (using the apply waiver function in the FCC Auction System) during a bidding round in which no bids are placed or withdrawn (if bid withdrawals are permitted in this auction), the auction will remain open and the bidder's eligibility will be preserved. An automatic waiver applied by the FCC Auction System in a round in which there are no new bids, withdrawals (if bid withdrawals are permitted in this auction), or proactive waivers will not keep the auction open. A bidder cannot apply a proactive waiver after bidding in a round, and applying a proactive waiver will preclude a bidder from placing any bids in that round. Applying a waiver is irreversible; once a proactive waiver is submitted, that waiver cannot be unsubmitted, even if the round has not yet closed.
23. The Bureaus propose that each bidder in Auction 90 be provided with three activity rule waivers that may be used as set forth above at the bidder's discretion during the course of the auction. The Bureaus seek comment on this proposal.
iv. Reserve Price or Minimum Opening Bids
24. A reserve price is an absolute minimum price below which an item will not be sold in a given auction. Reserve prices can be either published or unpublished. A minimum opening bid, on the other hand, is the minimum bid price set at the beginning of the auction below which no bids are accepted. It is generally used to accelerate the competitive bidding process. It is possible for the minimum opening bid and the reserve price to be the same amount.
25. The Bureaus propose to establish minimum opening bid amounts for Auction 90. The Bureaus believe a minimum opening bid amount, which has been used in other broadcast auctions, is an effective bidding tool for accelerating the competitive bidding process. The Bureaus do not propose to establish a separate reserve price for the construction permits to be offered in Auction 90.
26. For Auction 90, the Bureaus propose minimum opening bid amounts determined by taking into account the type of service and class of facility offered, market size, population covered by the proposed broadcast facility, and recent broadcast transaction data. The proposed minimum opening bid amounts are $200,000 for each construction permit available in Auction 90. The Bureaus seek comment on these proposals.
27. If commenters believe that these minimum opening bid amounts will result in unsold construction permits, are not reasonable amounts, or should instead operate as reserve prices, they should explain why this is so and comment on the desirability of an alternative approach. Commenters are advised to support their claims with valuation analyses and suggested amounts or formulas for reserve prices or minimum opening bids. In establishing the minimum opening bid amounts, the Bureaus particularly seek comment on factors that could reasonably have an impact on valuation of the broadcast spectrum, including the type of service and class of facility offered, market size, population covered by the proposed VHF commercial television station and any other relevant factors.
v. Bid Amounts
28. The Bureaus propose that, in each round, eligible bidders be able to place a bid on a given construction permit in any of up to nine different amounts. Under this proposal, the FCC Auction System interface will list the acceptable bid amounts for each construction permit.
29. For Auction 90, the Bureaus propose to use a minimum acceptable bid percentage of 10 percent. This means that the minimum acceptable bid amount for a construction permit will be approximately 10 percent greater than the provisionally winning bid amount for the construction permit. To calculate the additional acceptable bid amounts, the Bureaus propose to use a bid increment percentage of 5 percent.
30. The Bureaus retain the discretion to change the minimum acceptable bid amounts, the minimum acceptable bid percentage, the bid increment percentage, and the number of acceptable bid amounts if the Bureaus determine that circumstances so dictate. Further, the Bureaus retain the discretion to do so on a construction permit-by-construction permit basis. The Bureaus also retain the discretion to limit (a) the amount by which a minimum acceptable bid for a construction permit may increase compared with the corresponding provisionally winning bid, and (b) the amount by which an additional bid amount may increase compared with the immediately preceding acceptable bid amount. For example, the Bureaus could set a $10,000 limit on increases in minimum acceptable bid amounts over provisionally winning bids. Thus, if calculating a minimum acceptable bid using the minimum acceptable bid percentage results in a minimum acceptable bid amount that is $12,000 higher than the provisionally winning bid on a construction permit, the minimum acceptable bid amount would instead be capped at $10,000 above the provisionally winning bid. The Bureaus Start Printed Page 57951seek comment on the circumstances under which the Bureaus should employ such a limit, factors the Bureaus should consider when determining the dollar amount of the limit, and the tradeoffs in setting such a limit or changing other parameters, such as changing the minimum acceptable bid percentage, the bid increment percentage, or the number of acceptable bid amounts. If the Bureaus exercise this discretion, they will alert bidders by announcement in the FCC Auction System during the auction. The Bureaus seek comment on these proposals.
vi. Provisionally Winning Bids
31. Provisionally winning bids are bids that would become final winning bids if the auction were to close in that given round. At the end of a bidding round, a provisionally winning bid for each construction permit will be determined based on the highest bid amount received for the construction permit. In the event of identical high bid amounts being submitted on a construction permit in a given round (i.e., tied bids), the Bureaus will use a random number generator to select a single provisionally winning bid from among the tied bids. (Each bid is assigned a random number, and the tied bid with the highest random number wins the tiebreaker.) The remaining bidders, as well as the provisionally winning bidder, can submit higher bids in subsequent rounds. However, if the auction were to end with no other bids being placed, the winning bidder would be the one that placed the provisionally winning bid. If any bids are received on the construction permit in a subsequent round, the provisionally winning bid again will be determined by the highest bid amount received for the construction permit.
32. A provisionally winning bid will remain the provisionally winning bid until there is a higher bid on the construction permit at the close of a subsequent round, unless the provisionally winning bid is withdrawn. Bidders are reminded that provisionally winning bids count toward activity for purposes of the activity rule.
vii. Bid Removal and Bid Withdrawal
33. For Auction 90, the Bureaus propose and seek comment on the following bid removal procedures. Before the close of a bidding round, a bidder has the option of removing any bid placed in that round. By removing selected bids in the FCC Auction System, a bidder may effectively undo any bid placed within that round. In contrast to the bid withdrawal provisions a bidder removing a bid placed in the same round is not subject to a withdrawal payment. Once a round closes, a bidder may no longer remove a bid.
34. The Bureaus also seek comment on whether bid withdrawals should be permitted in Auction 90. When permitted in an auction, bid withdrawals provide a bidder with the option of withdrawing bids placed in prior rounds that have become provisionally winning bids. A bidder may withdraw its provisionally winning bids using the withdraw bids function in the FCC Auction System. A bidder that withdraws its provisionally winning bid(s), if permitted, is subject to the bid withdrawal payment provisions of the Commission rules.
35. For Auction 90 the Bureaus propose to prohibit bidders from withdrawing any bids after the round in which bids were placed has closed. This proposal is made in recognition that bid withdrawals, particularly those made late in this auction, could result in delays in licensing of digital broadcast television service to the public in these two markets. The Bureaus are also mindful that the two construction permits that are the subject of this auction are being offered as a means to effectuate section 331(a)'s mandate that the Commission allot at least one VHF channel to each State, if technically feasible. The Bureaus seek comment on this approach.
C. Post-Auction Payments
i. Interim Withdrawal Payment Percentage
36. The Bureaus seek comment on the appropriate percentage of a withdrawn bid that should be assessed as an interim withdrawal payment, in the event that a final withdrawal payment cannot be determined at the close of the auction. In general, the Commission's rules provide that a bidder that withdraws a bid during an auction is subject to a withdrawal payment equal to the difference between the amount of the withdrawn bid and the amount of the winning bid in the same or a subsequent auction(s). If a construction permit for which a bid has been withdrawn does not receive a subsequent higher bid or winning bid in the same auction, the final withdrawal payment cannot be calculated until a corresponding construction permit receives a higher bid or winning bid in a subsequent auction. When that final payment cannot yet be calculated, the bidder responsible for the withdrawn bid is assessed an interim bid withdrawal payment, which will be applied toward any final bid withdrawal payment that is ultimately assessed.
37. The Commission's rules provide that, in advance of each auction, a percentage shall be established between three percent and twenty percent of the withdrawn bid to be assessed as an interim bid withdrawal payment. The Commission has indicated that the level of the interim withdrawal payment in a particular auction will be based on the nature of the service and the inventory of the construction permits being offered. The Commission noted that it may impose a higher interim withdrawal payment percentage to deter the anti-competitive use of withdrawals when, for example, there are few synergies to be captured by combining construction permits.
38. Applying the reasoning that a higher interim withdrawal payment percentage is appropriate when aggregation of construction permits is not expected, as with the construction permits subject to competitive bidding in Auction 90, if the Bureaus allow bid withdrawals in this auction, the Bureaus propose the maximum interim withdrawal payment allowed under the current rules. Specifically, the Bureaus propose to establish an interim bid withdrawal payment of twenty percent of the withdrawn bid for this auction. The Bureaus seek comment on this proposal.
ii. Additional Default Payment Percentage
39. Any winning bidder that defaults or is disqualified after the close of an auction (i.e., fails to remit the required down payment within the prescribed period of time, fails to submit a timely long-form application, fails to make full payment, or is otherwise disqualified) is liable for a default payment under 47 CFR 1.2104(g)(2). This payment consists of a deficiency payment, equal to the difference between the amount of the bidder's bid and the amount of the winning bid the next time a construction permit covering the same spectrum is won in an auction, plus an additional payment equal to a percentage of the defaulter's bid or of the subsequent winning bid, whichever is less.
40. The Commission's rules provide that, in advance of each auction, a percentage shall be established between three percent and twenty percent of the applicable bid to be assessed as an additional default payment. As the Commission has indicated, the level of this payment in each case will be based on the nature of the service and the construction permits being offered.Start Printed Page 57952
41. For Auction 90, the Bureaus propose to establish an additional default payment of twenty percent. As previously noted by the Commission defaults weaken the integrity of the auction process and may impede the deployment of service to the public, and an additional default payment of more than the previous three percent will be more effective in deterring defaults. In light of these considerations for Auction 90, the Bureaus propose an additional default payment of twenty percent of the relevant bid. The Bureaus seek comment on this proposal.
V. Deadlines and Filing Procedures
42. Comments are due on or before September 30, 2010, and reply comments are due on or before October 15, 2010. All filings related to procedures for Auction 90 must refer to AU Docket No. 10-147. Comments may be submitted using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System or by filing paper copies. The Bureaus strongly encourage interested parties to file comments electronically.
43. This proceeding has been designated as a permit-but-disclose proceeding in accordance with the Commission's ex parte rules. Persons making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentations must contain summaries of the substance of the presentations and not merely a listing of the subjects discussed. More than a one or two sentence description of the views and arguments presented is generally required. Other rules pertaining to oral and written ex parte presentations in permit-but-disclose proceedings are set forth in 47 CFR 1.1206(b).Start Signature
Federal Communications Commission.
Gary D. Michaels,
Deputy Chief, Auctions and Spectrum Access Division, WTB.
[FR Doc. 2010-23825 Filed 9-22-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P