What if the Spectrum Auction Fails?

We’ve all probably thought it. From the beginning, many had misgivings about the structure and integrity of the Federal Communication Commission’s Spectrum Auction for all parties involved, but has anyone actually considered what would happen if the auction fails?

Wells Fargo Analyst Marci Ryvicker has, and she has shared her findings to the public, according to a TV News Check article.

“The technical definition of auction failure is concluding Stage 9 (42 MHz cleared/ 20 MHz sold) with the Final Stage Rule still having not been met,” she wrote. “According to our math, we are still quite a ways away from this potential outcome. But with the forward auction going backwards in the two most recent stages, we did feel it time to gauge what might happen to our stocks should the previously unthinkable become our reality.”

Ryvicker found Sinclair Broadcast Group as the healthiest of the three broadcasters most ‘exposed’ to the auction and Tribune Co. as the interest with the greatest potential rick to its stock price. She also found that the auction was failing during Stage 3 because “another bidder may have dropped out as every formerly fully-subscribed market in the top 50 partial economic areas (PEAs) saw a reduction in demand — typically of exactly one block.”

She said that the problem with the auction wasn’t with the spectrum, but, rather, with the timing, and she does not believe this auction is an accurate assessment of all spectrum value.

Fortunately, Ryvicker’s findings on the potential results of a failed spectrum auction are rather uplifting. She does not believe a failed auction would spell disaster for broadcasters. She believes “the political environment is more of a game changer than the auction ever was.”

“In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if some broadcasters think twice about participation — given reconsideration of potential station values,” she wrote.

She also dispelled any rumors about what Comcast might do once the auction reaches its finish.

“No longer will we hear concerns about what Comcast might do with the potential ‘gobs’ of broadcast spectrum. If the auction fails, it is over for everyone — there are no partial winners here.”

All in all, Ryvicker’s analysis is both cautious and practical. She did not play on people’s fears; she presented facts and dispelled rumors by predicting the most probable outcomes with deciding realism. The auction will not cripple broadcasters if broadcasters do not let it cripple them.

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Dear Fellow LPTV Broadcaster and Industry Leaders,

The auction has ended and most of us are still here.  While it was not only our hope but the hope of many others that the auction would not take place . . . it did, but it did not have the devastating effect that it might have had. 

The world after the auction looks different and amazingly so has a very bright future!

What does that future look like?  Not only the amazing possibilities of ATSC 3.0 but the landscape of a nation of people who are increasingly cutting their cable cords and looking for free, over the air, broadcasting content.

That’s why it’s more important than ever that you join the Advanced Television Broadcast Alliance.  Our board of directors have a combined 500+ years of experience which beginning with your membership we are going to start making more available to our members on an increasing basis.

Soon as an ATBA member, you will be eligible to start tapping into not only this brain trust through unique services available only to our members but regular news updates regarding our collective broadcast future.  We are exploring new ways to tap into information from Washington as well as important updates that will benefit you right there where you live.

The need for the ATBA has increased with the new opportunities that are becoming available for those of us who still know that the future of LPTV, Class A and Translators is bright!  Are you selling your station to local sponsors?  Are you maximizing your spectrum to the advantage that you truly can?  Are you struggling with FCC rules and regulations that you either don’t understand or can’t get explained?

The ATBA is developing a database of information to help you find the answers you need! 

In addition we are still working with the true decision makers in Washington.  Your ATBA has earned the respect and the ear of the true movers and shakers that continue to shape our collective broadcasting future.

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  1. Members only access to hundreds of years of LPTV experience through our new “Brain Trust”
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  3. Exclusive digital content regarding real world information you need to know
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To be honest you can’t afford not to be a member of the ATBA! 

We’re making it affordable because it’s a win – win!  When you join, you’re going to receive more than just the benefits listed above but also you’ll be aligning with hundreds of others who, like yourself, have a vested interest in the continued forward movement of free, over-the-air broadcasting.  It’s a win for your ATBA because we will increase our strength through numbers as we grow together.

So what’s the next step?  If you’re ready follow this link https://www.broadcastingalliance.org/join-us/ to sign up.  If you have more questions please don’t hesitate to call a member of the ATBA board of directors by calling this number (877) 214-4277.   You’ll get a rapid response!

Thanks for taking the time to read this note and for your ongoing passion for the future of communication in this great country.


The Board of Directors – The Advanced Television Broadcast Alliance