An auction of new FM channels was scheduled to begin in late April (see our posts here and here). Yesterday, the FCC issued a Public Notice indefinitely delaying that auction. Apparently, the FCC needs to have staff physically present in its Washington, DC building in order to conduct an auction, and with the current teleworking situation, the auction processes cannot function. With other wireless auctions scheduled for the latter half of the year, there was apparently no way to find time this year to conduct the auction. Thus, the auction is postponed indefinitely. Seemingly concluding that it was unfair to hold onto the upfront auction payments for an indeterminate time, the FCC agreed to refund those upfront payments – and the Public Notice provides instructions for securing such a refund. As business conditions may well have changed significantly whenever the auction is rescheduled, the FCC decided to return all of the “short-form” applications that were filed and to lift all restrictions on “prohibited communications” between competing applicants. Thus, the auction will start anew, with new applicants, at some later date, likely in 2021.
Courtesy Broadcast Law Blog