The FCC on Tuesday said it is anticipating a Monday start to the third stage of its forward incentive auction.
According to a post on the Incentive Auction Dashboard, the commission is expecting the current Stage 3 reverse auction to close in round 52, which will take place on Thursday, Dec. 1. While the base clock price is expected to hit $0 in that round, FCC officials noted it is possible for bidding to continue for up to two additional rounds past that point. To facilitate the close of the reverse auction, the FCC said it will hold as many as five one-hour rounds of bidding (rounds 50-54, if necessary) on Thursday starting at 10 a.m.
Though the FCC said it will formally announce the start date and bidding schedule for the forward auction after the reverse auction closes, it said it anticipates bidding in the Stage 3 forward auction will begin on Monday, Dec. 5. Bidders should plan accordingly, the FCC said.
More than the start date, though, forward auction bidders will likely have their eye on the new price target that will be set by broadcasters in the reverse auction.
In the first stage of the proceedings, forward auction participants were up against a towering $86.4 billion bar. That figure dropped to $54.6 billion in the second stage of the auction, but it wasn’t low enough for bidders’ liking and the forward auction closed after just one round with net proceeds of only around $21 billion.
BTIG’s Walter Piecyk in an October note speculated that if Stage 3 mirrors the 37 percent drop in price between Stages 1 and 2, the new target could come in around $35 billion. But, as Piecyk noted, that still may not be low enough, and BTIG is still expecting a fourth stage to be necessary.
According to Piecyk’s revised auction timeline, a Stage 4 reverse auction could begin before the end of this year with forward auction proceedings wrapping up by the start of February.