Auction of Construction Permits for Full Power Television Stations; Comment Sought on Competitive Bidding Procedures for Auction 112

CourtFederal Communications Commission
Citation86 FR 68203
Record Number2021-26001
Publication Date01 December 2021
Federal Register, Volume 86 Issue 228 (Wednesday, December 1, 2021)
[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 228 (Wednesday, December 1, 2021)]
                [Proposed Rules]
                [Pages 68203-68212]
                From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
                [FR Doc No: 2021-26001]
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                FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
                47 CFR Parts 1 and 73
                [AU Docket No. 21-449; DA 21-1444; FR ID 59514]
                Auction of Construction Permits for Full Power Television
                Stations; Comment Sought on Competitive Bidding Procedures for Auction
                112
                AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.
                ACTION: Proposed rule; proposed auction procedures.
                -----------------------------------------------------------------------
                SUMMARY: The Office of Economics and Analytics and the Media Bureau
                seek
                [[Page 68204]]
                comment on the procedures to be used for Auction 112, an auction of
                construction permits for full power television (FPTV) stations. OEA and
                MB expect the bidding for Auction 112 to commence in June 2022.
                DATES: Comments are due on or before December 13, 2021, and reply
                comments are due on or before December 23, 2021. Bidding in this
                auction is expected to commence in June 2022.
                ADDRESSES: Interested parties may file comments or reply comments in AU
                Docket No. 21-449. Comments may be filed using the Commission's
                Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) All filings in response to the
                Public Notice must refer to AU Docket No. 21-449.
                 Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically
                using the internet by accessing the ECFS at https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/.
                 Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must
                file an original and one copy of each filing.
                 Filings in response to the Public Notice can be sent by
                commercial courier or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service
                mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary,
                Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
                 Commercial deliveries (other than U.S. Postal Service
                Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9050 Junction Dr.,
                Annapolis Junction, MD 20701.
                 U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, or Priority mail
                must be addressed to 45 L Street NE, Washington, DC 20554.
                 Until further notice, the Commission no longer accepts any
                hand or messenger delivered filings. This is a temporary measure taken
                to help protect the health and safety of individuals, and to mitigate
                the transmission of COVID-19.
                 Email: Commenters are asked to also submit a copy of their
                comments and reply comments electronically to the following address:
                [email protected].
                 People with Disabilities: To request materials in
                accessible formats (braille, large print, electronic files, audio
                format) for people with disabilities, send an email to [email protected]
                or call the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530
                (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY).
                FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
                 Auction legal questions: Mary Lovejoy, (202) 418-0660,
                [email protected], Andrew McArdell, (202) 418-0660,
                [email protected].
                 General auction questions: Auction Hotline at (717) 338-2868.
                 Full power television station service questions: Shaun Maher
                (legal), (202) 418-2324, [email protected], or Kevin Harding
                (technical questions), (202) 418-7077, [email protected].
                SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Public Notice
                (Auction 112 Comment Public Notice), AU Docket No. 21-449, DA 21-1444,
                released on November 19, 2021. The Auction 112 Comment Public Notice
                includes the following attachments: Attachment A, Construction Permits
                in Auction 112. The complete text of the Auction 112 Comment Public
                Notice, including its attachment, is available on the Commission's
                website at http://www.fcc.gov/auction/112 or by using the search
                function for AU Docket No. 21-449 on the Commission's ECFS web page at
                www.fcc.gov/ecfs. Alternative formats are available to persons with
                disabilities by sending an email to [email protected] or by calling the
                Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202)
                418-0432 (TTY).
                I. Introduction
                 1. By the Auction 112 Comment Public Notice, the Office of
                Economics and Analytics (OEA) and the Media Bureau (MB) of the Federal
                Communications Commission (Commission) seek comment on the procedures
                to be used for Auction 112, an auction of construction permits for full
                power television (FPTV) stations. OEA and MB expect the bidding for
                Auction 112 to commence in June 2022.
                II. Construction Permits To Be Offered in Auction 112
                 2. Auction 112 will offer 27 construction permits for FPTV
                stations. The permits that will be available in Auction 112 are listed
                in Attachment A to the Auction 112 Comment Public Notice.
                 3. The permits that will be available in Auction 112 are for
                channel allotments contained in the Table of Television Allotments (TV
                Table) and assigned at the indicated communities for which there
                currently is not a licensee. Each permit awarded will be for one of the
                allotted-but-unlicensed channels currently contained in the TV Table.
                III. Implementation of Part 1 and Part 73 Competitive Bidding Rules and
                Requirements
                 4. Consistent with the provisions of section 309(j)(3)(E)(i) of the
                Communications Act of 1934 (the Act), and to ensure that potential
                bidders have adequate time to familiarize themselves with the specific
                rules that will govern the day-to-day conduct of an auction, OEA and MB
                seek comment on a variety of auction-specific procedures relating to
                the conduct of Auction 112.
                 5. The Commission's part 1 and part 73 competitive bidding rules
                require each applicant seeking to bid to acquire a construction permit
                in a broadcast auction to provide certain information in a short-form
                application (FCC Form 175), including ownership details and numerous
                certifications. The competitive bidding rules in part 1, subpart Q, and
                part 73 also contain a framework for the implementation of a
                competitive bidding design, application and certification procedures,
                reporting requirements, and the prohibition of certain communications.
                A. Certification of Notice of Auction 112 Requirements and Procedures
                 6. OEA and MB propose to require any party seeking to participate
                in Auction 112 to certify in its short-form application, under penalty
                of perjury, that it has read the public notice adopting procedures for
                the auction and that it has familiarized itself both with the auction
                procedures and with the requirements for obtaining a construction
                permit for an FPTV station. OEA and MB believe that this requirement,
                which was also recently implemented in Auction 110, would help ensure
                that the applicant has reviewed the procedures for participation in the
                auction process and has investigated and evaluated those technical and
                marketplace factors that may have a bearing on its potential use of any
                permits won at auction. Consequently, OEA and MB believe this
                requirement would promote an applicant's successful participation and
                minimize its risk of defaulting on its auction obligations. As with
                other certifications required under 47 CFR 1.2105, an auction
                applicant's failure to make the required certification in its short-
                form application by the applicable filing deadline would render its
                application unacceptable for filing, and its application would be
                dismissed with prejudice. OEA and MB seek comment on this proposal. Are
                there alternative procedures that could be implemented that would
                better ensure that an applicant has thoroughly reviewed the auction's
                procedures and considered all relevant factors that may affect its
                participation in the auction and use of any permits for which it is the
                winning bidder?
                B. Information Procedures During the Auction Process
                 7. OEA and MB propose to limit information available in Auction 112
                to
                [[Page 68205]]
                discourage unproductive and anti-competitive strategic behavior.
                Accordingly, if this proposal is adopted, OEA and MB will not identify
                bidders placing particular bids until after the bidding has closed.
                While OEA and MB generally make available to the public information
                provided in each applicant's FCC Form 175 following an initial review
                by Commission staff, OEA and MB propose to not make public until after
                bidding has closed: (1) The permits that an applicant selects for
                bidding in its short-form application, (2) the amount of any upfront
                payment made by or on behalf of an applicant, (3) any applicant's
                bidding eligibility, and (4) any other bidding-related information that
                might reveal the identity of the bidder placing a bid. Similarly, this
                nonpublic information may not be communicated from one applicant to
                another. 47 CFR 1.2105(c)(1) provides that, subject to specified
                exceptions, all applicants are prohibited from cooperating or
                collaborating with respect to, or communicating with or disclosing to
                each other in any manner, the substance of their own, or each other's,
                or any other applicant's bids or bidding strategies (including post-
                auction market structure), or discussing or negotiating settlement
                agreements, until after the deadline for winning bidders to submit down
                payments. ``Applicant'' is defined as including all officers and
                directors of the entity submitting a short form application to
                participate in the auction, all controlling interests of that entity,
                as well as all holders of partnership and other ownership interests and
                any stock interest amounting to 10% or more of the entity, or
                outstanding stock, or outstanding voting stock of the entity submitting
                a short-form application. A party that submits an application becomes
                an ``applicant'' under the rule at the application filing deadline and
                that status does not change based on later developments.
                 8. Under this proposal, OEA and MB would not make public any real-
                time information on bidding activity until the close of the auction.
                However, bidders would have access to additional information related to
                their own bidding and bid eligibility before and during the auction via
                the FCC auction bidding system.
                 9. Under this proposal, after the close of bidding, bidders' permit
                selections, upfront payment amounts, bidding eligibility, bids, and
                other bidding-related information would be made publicly available.
                 10. OEA and MB seek comment on the above details of the proposal
                for implementing limited information procedures, or anonymous bidding,
                in Auction 112. Commenters opposing the use of limited information
                procedures in Auction 112 should explain their reasoning and propose
                alternative information rules.
                C. Upfront Payments and Bidding Eligibility
                 11. In keeping with the usual practice in spectrum auctions, OEA
                and MB propose that applicants be required to submit upfront payments
                as a prerequisite to becoming qualified to bid. An upfront payment is a
                refundable deposit made by an applicant to establish its eligibility to
                bid on construction permits. Upfront payments that are related to the
                specific construction permits being auctioned protect against frivolous
                or insincere bidding and provide the Commission with a source of funds
                from which to collect payments owed at the close of bidding.
                 12. OEA and MB seek comment on an appropriate upfront payment for
                each construction permit being auctioned, taking into account such
                factors as the efficiency of the auction process and the potential
                value of similar construction permits. With these considerations in
                mind, OEA and MB propose the upfront payments set forth in Attachment A
                to the Auction 112 Comment Public Notice and seek comment on those
                proposed upfront payment amounts.
                 13. OEA and MB further propose that the amount of the upfront
                payment submitted by an applicant will determine its initial bidding
                eligibility in bidding units, which are a measure of bidder eligibility
                and bidding activity. OEA and MB propose to assign each construction
                permit a specific number of bidding units, equal to one bidding unit
                per one thousand dollars of the upfront payment listed in Attachment A
                to the Auction 112 Comment Public Notice. The number of bidding units
                for a given construction permit is fixed and does not change during the
                auction as prices change. If an applicant is found to be qualified to
                bid on more than one permit being offered in Auction 112, such bidder
                may place bids on multiple construction permits, provided that the
                total number of bidding units associated with those construction
                permits does not exceed that bidder's current eligibility. A bidder
                cannot increase its eligibility during the auction; it can only
                maintain or decrease its eligibility. 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. OEA and MB seek comment on these proposals.
                D. Minimum Opening Bids or Reserve Prices
                 14. As part of the pre-bidding process for each auction, OEA and MB
                seek comment on the use of a minimum opening bid amount and/or reserve
                price, as mandated by section 309(j) of the Act. OEA and MB propose to
                establish minimum opening bid amounts for Auction 112. Based on their
                experience in past broadcast auctions, OEA and MB have found that
                setting a minimum opening bid amount judiciously is an effective
                bidding tool for accelerating the competitive bidding process. In the
                most recent television broadcast auctions--for low power television
                (LPTV) construction permits (Auctions 104 and 111)--OEA and MB have
                similarly proposed establishing minimum opening bids but not reserve
                prices; in those auctions, no comments opposed the proposal, and OEA
                and MB adopted it both times. Based on these facts, OEA and MB propose
                establishing minimum opening bids for Auction 112. OEA and MB do not
                propose to establish separate reserve prices for any of the
                construction permits to be offered in Auction 112, nor do OEA and MB
                see any reason to propose an aggregate reserve price for this auction.
                 15. For auctions of broadcast permits, OEA and MB generally propose
                minimum opening bid amounts that have been 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, to the extent such information is
                available. OEA and MB seek comment on the proposed minimum opening bid
                amounts for Auction 112, which are specified in Attachment A to this
                Auction 112 Comment Public Notice.
                 16. If commenters believe that these minimum opening bid amounts
                will result in unsold construction permits or are not reasonable
                amounts at which to start bidding, they should explain why this is so
                and comment on the desirability of an alternative approach. Commenters
                should support their claims with valuation analyses and suggested
                amounts or formulas. In establishing the minimum opening bid amounts,
                OEA and MB particularly seek comment on factors that could reasonably
                have an impact on bidders' valuation of the broadcast spectrum,
                including the type of service and class
                [[Page 68206]]
                of facility offered, market size, population covered by the proposed
                broadcast facility and any other relevant factors. Commenters also may
                wish to address the general role of minimum opening bids in managing
                the pace of the auction. For example, commenters could compare using
                minimum opening bids--e.g., by setting higher minimum opening bids to
                reduce the number of rounds it takes for construction permits to reach
                their final prices--to other means of controlling auction pace, such as
                changes to bidding schedules, percentage increments, or activity
                requirements.
                E. Auction Delay, Suspension, or Cancellation
                 17. For Auction 112, OEA and MB propose that at any time before or
                during the bidding process OEA, in conjunction with MB, may delay,
                suspend, or cancel bidding in the auction in the event of a natural
                disaster, technical obstacle, network interruption, 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 a case, OEA would
                notify participants of any such delay, suspension, or cancellation by
                public notice or through the FCC auction bidding system's messages
                function. OEA and MB propose that, if bidding is delayed or suspended,
                OEA may, in its sole discretion, elect to resume the auction starting
                from the beginning of the current round or from some previous round, or
                cancel the auction in its entirety. OEA and MB propose to exercise this
                authority solely at their discretion, and not as a substitute for
                situations in which bidders may wish to apply activity rule waivers.
                OEA and MB seek comment on these proposals.
                F. Interim Withdrawal Payment Percentage
                 18. As discussed below, OEA and MB propose not to allow bid
                withdrawals in Auction 112. In the event bid withdrawals are permitted
                in Auction 112, however, OEA and MB propose the interim bid withdrawal
                payment be 20% of the withdrawn bid. A bidder that withdraws a
                provisionally winning 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.
                However, 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 Commission cannot calculate the final withdrawal payment
                until that construction permit receives a higher bid or winning bid in
                a subsequent auction. In such cases, when that final withdrawal payment
                cannot yet be calculated, the Commission imposes on the bidder
                responsible for the withdrawn bid an interim bid withdrawal payment,
                which will be applied toward any final bid withdrawal payment that is
                ultimately assessed.
                 19. The percentage amount of the interim bid withdrawal payment is
                established in advance of bidding in each auction and may range from 3%
                to 20% of the withdrawn bid amount. The Commission has determined that
                the level of interim withdrawal payment in a particular auction will be
                based on the nature of the service and the inventory of the licenses
                being offered. The Commission noted specifically that a higher interim
                withdrawal payment percentage is warranted to deter the anti-
                competitive use of withdrawals when, for example, bidders will not need
                to aggregate the licenses being offered in the auction or when there
                are few synergies to be captured by combining licenses. In light of
                these considerations with respect to the construction permits being
                offered in this auction, OEA and MB propose to use the maximum interim
                bid withdrawal payment percentage permitted by 47 CFR 1.2104(g)(1) in
                the event bid withdrawals are allowed in this auction. OEA and MB
                request comment on using 20% for calculating an interim bid withdrawal
                payment amount in Auction 112 in the event that bidders would be
                permitted to withdraw bids. Commenters advocating the use of bid
                withdrawals should also address the percentage of the interim bid
                withdrawal payment.
                G. Deficiency Payments and Additional Default Payment Percentage
                 20. Any winning bidder that defaults or is disqualified after the
                close of an auction (i.e., fails to remit the required down payment by
                the specified deadline, fails to make full and timely final payment,
                fails to submit a timely long-form application, or whose long-form
                application is not granted for any reason, 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 Auction 112 bidder's winning
                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.
                 21. The Commission's rules provide that, in advance of each
                auction, it will establish a percentage between 3% and 20% of the
                applicable winning bid to be assessed as an additional default payment.
                As the Commission has indicated, the level of this additional payment
                in each auction will be based on the nature of the service and the
                construction permits being offered.
                 22. For Auction 112, OEA and MB propose to establish an additional
                default payment of 20%, which is consistent with the percentage in
                prior auctions of broadcast construction permits. As the Commission has
                noted, defaults weaken the integrity of the auction process and may
                impede the deployment of service to the public, and an additional 20%
                default payment will be more effective in deterring defaults than the
                3% used in some earlier auctions. In light of these considerations, OEA
                and MB propose for Auction 112 an additional default payment of 20% of
                the relevant bid. OEA and MB seek comment on this proposal.
                IV. Proposed Bidding Procedures
                A. Simultaneous Multiple-Round Auction Design
                 23. OEA and MB propose to use the Commission's simultaneous
                multiple-round auction format for Auction 112. As described further
                below, this type of auction offers every construction permit for bid at
                the same time and consists of successive bidding rounds in which
                qualified bidders may place bids on individual construction permits.
                Typically, bidding remains open on all construction permits until
                bidding stops on every construction permit. OEA and MB seek comment on
                this proposal.
                B. Bidding Rounds
                 24. The Commission will conduct Auction 112 over the internet using
                the FCC auction bidding system. A bidder will also have the option of
                placing bids by telephone through a dedicated auction bidder line.
                 25. Under this proposal, Auction 112 would 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 bidding. Details on
                viewing round results, including the location and format of
                downloadable round results files, will be included in the same public
                notice.
                 26. OEA and MB propose that the initial bidding schedule may be
                [[Page 68207]]
                adjusted 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, such changes may include 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. OEA and MB seek comment on this proposal.
                Parties commenting on this issue should address the role of the bidding
                schedule in managing the pace of the auction, specifically discussing
                the tradeoffs in managing auction pace by bidding schedule changes, by
                changing the activity requirement(s) or bid amount parameters, or by
                using other means.
                C. Stopping Rule
                 27. OEA and MB have discretion to establish stopping rules before
                or during multiple-round auctions in order to complete the auction
                within a reasonable time. For Auction 112, OEA and MB propose to employ
                a simultaneous stopping rule approach, which means all construction
                permits remain available for bidding until bidding stops on every
                construction permit. Specifically, bidding will close on all
                construction permits after the first round in which no bidder submits
                any new bid, applies a proactive activity rule waiver, or withdraws any
                provisionally winning bid (if bid withdrawals are permitted in this
                auction). Thus, under the proposed simultaneous stopping rule, bidding
                would remain open on all construction permits until bidding stops on
                every construction permit. Consequently, under this approach, it is not
                possible to determine in advance how long the bidding in this auction
                will last.
                 28. Further, OEA and MB propose to retain the discretion to
                exercise any of the following stopping options during Auction 112:
                 Option 1. The auction would close for all construction permits
                after the first round in which no bidder applies a waiver, no bidder
                withdraws a provisionally winning bid (if withdrawals are permitted
                in this auction), or no bidder places any new bid on a construction
                permit for which it is not the provisionally winning bidder. 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.
                 Option 2. The auction would close for all construction permits
                after the first round in which no bidder applies a waiver, no bidder
                withdraws a provisionally winning bid (if withdrawals are permitted
                in this auction), or no bidder places any new bid on a construction
                permit that already has a provisionally winning bid. Absent any
                other bidding activity, a bidder placing a new bid on an FCC-held
                construction permit (a construction permit that does not already
                have a provisionally winning bid) would not keep the auction open
                under this modified stopping rule.
                 Option 3. The auction would close using a modified version of
                the simultaneous stopping rule that combines Option 1 and Option 2
                above.
                 Option 4. The auction would close after a specified number of
                additional rounds (special stopping rule) to be announced in advance
                in the FCC auction bidding system. If OEA and MB invoke this special
                stopping rule, they will accept bids in the specified final
                round(s), after which the auction will close.
                 Option 5. The auction would remain open even if no bidder places
                any new bid, applies a waiver, or withdraws any provisionally
                winning bid (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.
                 29. OEA and MB 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 or will close prematurely. Before exercising these options, OEA
                and MB are likely to attempt to change the pace of the auction. For
                example, OEA and MB may adjust the pace of bidding by changing the
                number of bidding rounds per day or the minimum acceptable bids. Under
                the proposal, OEA would retain the discretion to exercise any of these
                options with or without prior announcement during the auction. OEA and
                MB seek comment on these proposals. Commenters should provide specific
                reasons for supporting or objecting to these proposals.
                D. Availability of Bidding Information
                 30. OEA and MB propose to make available, after each round closes,
                for each permit its current provisionally winning bid amount, the
                minimum acceptable bid amount for the following round, and the amounts
                of all bids placed on the permit during the round. These reports would
                be publicly accessible. Moreover, after the auction closes, OEA and MB
                propose to make available complete reports of all bids placed during
                each round of the auction, including bidder identities.
                 31. OEA and MB also propose to provide bidders with secure access
                to certain non-public bidding information while bidding is ongoing.
                Specifically, after each round ends, and before the next round begins,
                OEA and MB propose to make the following information available to
                individual bidders:
                 The bidder's activity, based on all bids in the previous
                round; and
                 Summary statistics of the bidder's bidding and other
                bidding-related actions in each round, including the permits on which
                it bid and the price it bid for each of those permits, the result of
                each of its bids, whether it has any provisionally winning bids, and
                remaining activity rule waivers.
                 32. OEA and MB believe that limiting the availability of bidding
                information during the auction balances the Commission's interest in
                providing bidders with sufficient information about the status of their
                own bids and the general level of bidding on all permits to allow them
                to bid confidently and effectively, while restricting the availability
                of information that may facilitate identification of bidders placing
                particular bids, which could potentially lead to undesirable strategic
                bidding. OEA and MB seek comment on this view.
                E. Activity Rule
                 33. To ensure that the auction closes within a reasonable period,
                an activity rule requires bidders to bid actively throughout the
                auction, rather than wait until late in the auction before
                participating. For purposes of the activity rule, the FCC auction
                bidding system calculates a bidder's activity in a round as 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. Bidders are required to be active on a
                specific percentage of their current bidding eligibility during each
                round of the auction. OEA and MB propose a single-stage auction with a
                100% activity requirement. That is, in each bidding round, a bidder
                desiring to maintain its current bidding eligibility will be required
                to be active on 100% of its bidding eligibility. Under this proposal,
                the activity requirement would be satisfied when a bidder has bidding
                activity on construction permits with bidding units that total 100% of
                its current eligibility in the round. If the activity rule is met, then
                the bidder's eligibility does not change in the next round. Failure to
                maintain the requisite activity level will result in the use of an
                activity rule waiver, if any remain, or a reduction in the bidder's
                eligibility for the next round of bidding, possibly curtailing or
                eliminating the bidder's
                [[Page 68208]]
                ability to place additional bids in the auction. A reduction in the
                bidder's eligibility would be to the amount that would bring the bidder
                into compliance with the activity requirement. With a 100% activity
                requirement, a bidder's eligibility would be reduced to equal its
                activity. OEA and MB seek comment on these activity requirements. OEA
                and MB encourage commenters that oppose a 100% activity requirement to
                explain their reasons with specificity and to propose alternative
                approaches.
                F. Activity Rule Waivers and Reducing Eligibility
                 34. For the proposed simultaneous multiple-round auction format,
                OEA and MB propose that when a bidder's activity in the current round
                is below the required minimum level, it may preserve its current level
                of eligibility through an activity rule waiver, if the bidder has any
                available. Consistent with prior Commission auctions of broadcast
                construction permits, OEA and MB propose that each bidder in Auction
                112 be provided with three activity rule waivers that may be used as
                set forth below at the bidder's discretion during the course of the
                auction.
                 35. 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. Activity rule waivers are primarily a
                mechanism for a bidder to avoid the loss of bidding eligibility in case
                exigent circumstances prevent it from bidding in a particular round.
                 36. The FCC auction bidding system will assume 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 waiver
                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, the bidder's current eligibility will be
                permanently reduced, possibly curtailing or eliminating the ability to
                place additional bids in the auction.
                 37. 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 bidding system. In this case, the bidder's eligibility
                would be permanently reduced to bring it into compliance with the
                activity rule described above. Reducing eligibility is an irreversible
                action; once eligibility has been reduced, a bidder cannot regain its
                lost bidding eligibility.
                 38. Under the proposed simultaneous stopping rule, a bidder would
                be permitted to 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 proactive waiver function in
                the FCC auction bidding system) during a bidding round in which no bid
                is 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
                bidding system in a round in which there is no new bid, no bid
                withdrawal (if bid withdrawals are permitted in this auction), or no
                proactive waiver would not keep the auction open. OEA and MB seek
                comment on these proposals.
                G. Bid Amounts
                 39. OEA and MB propose that, in each round, a qualified bidder will
                be able to place a bid on a given construction permit in any of up to
                nine different amounts: The minimum acceptable bid amount or one of
                eight additional bid amounts. Bidders must have sufficient eligibility
                to place a bid on the particular construction permit.
                 40. Minimum Acceptable Bid Amounts. The first of the acceptable bid
                amounts is called the minimum acceptable bid amount. The minimum
                acceptable bid amount for a construction permit will be equal to its
                minimum opening bid amount until there is a provisionally winning bid
                for the construction permit. Once there is a provisionally winning bid
                for a construction permit, the minimum acceptable bid amount for that
                construction permit will be equal to the amount of the provisionally
                winning bid plus a specified percentage of that bid amount. The
                percentage used for this calculation, the minimum acceptable bid
                increment percentage, is multiplied by the provisionally winning bid
                amount, and the resulting amount is added to the provisionally winning
                bid amount. If, for example, the minimum acceptable bid increment
                percentage is 10%, then the provisionally winning bid amount is
                multiplied by 10%. The result of that calculation is added to the
                provisionally winning bid amount, and that sum is rounded using the
                Commission's standard rounding procedure for auctions. The result of
                the calculation is subject to a minimum of $100 and results above
                $10,000 are rounded to the nearest $1,000; results below $10,000 but
                above $1,000 are rounded to the nearest $100; and results below $1,000
                are rounded to the nearest $10. If bid withdrawals are permitted in
                this auction, in the case of a construction permit for which the
                provisionally winning bid has been withdrawn, the minimum acceptable
                bid amount will equal the second highest bid received for the
                construction permit.
                 41. Additional Bid Amounts. Under this proposal, the Commission
                will calculate the eight additional bid amounts using the minimum
                acceptable bid amount and an additional bid increment percentage. The
                minimum acceptable bid amount is multiplied by the additional bid
                increment percentage, and that result (rounded) is the additional
                increment amount. The first additional acceptable bid amount equals the
                minimum acceptable bid amount plus the additional increment amount. The
                second additional acceptable bid amount equals the minimum acceptable
                bid amount plus two times the additional increment amount; the third
                additional acceptable bid amount is the minimum acceptable bid amount
                plus three times the additional increment amount; etc. If, for example,
                the additional bid increment percentage is 5%, then the calculation of
                the additional increment amount would be (minimum acceptable bid
                amount) * (0.05), rounded. The first additional acceptable bid amount
                equals (minimum acceptable bid amount) + (additional increment amount);
                the second additional acceptable bid amount equals (minimum acceptable
                bid amount) + (2* (additional increment amount)); the third additional
                acceptable bid amount equals (minimum acceptable bid amount) + (3*
                (additional increment amount)); etc.
                 42. For Auction 112, OEA and MB propose to use a minimum acceptable
                bid increment percentage of 10%. This means that the minimum acceptable
                bid amount for a construction permit will be approximately 10% greater
                than the provisionally winning bid amount for the construction permit.
                To calculate the additional acceptable bid amounts, OEA and MB propose
                to use a bid increment percentage of 5%. OEA and MB seek comment on
                these proposals.
                 43. Bid Amount Changes. OEA and MB propose to retain the discretion
                to change the minimum acceptable bid amounts, the minimum acceptable
                bid percentage, the additional bid increment
                [[Page 68209]]
                percentage, and the number of acceptable bid amounts during the auction
                if it determines, consistent with past practice, that circumstances so
                dictate. OEA and MB propose to retain the discretion to do so on a
                construction permit-by-construction permit basis. OEA and MB also
                propose to 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 a $1,000 limit
                could be set on increases in minimum acceptable bid amounts over
                provisionally winning bids. In this example, if calculating a minimum
                acceptable bid using the minimum acceptable bid increment percentage
                results in a minimum acceptable bid amount that is $1,200 higher than
                the provisionally winning bid on a construction permit, the minimum
                acceptable bid amount would instead be capped at $1,000 above the
                provisionally winning bid. OEA and MB seek comment on the circumstances
                under which such a limit should be employed, factors that should be
                considered 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 OEA and MB
                exercise this discretion, it will alert bidders by announcement in the
                FCC auction bidding system during the auction.
                 44. OEA and MB seek comment on these proposals. If commenters
                disagree with the proposal to begin the auction with nine acceptable
                bid amounts per construction permit, they should suggest an alternative
                number of acceptable bid amounts to use. Commenters may wish to address
                the role of the minimum acceptable bids and the number of acceptable
                bid amounts in managing the pace of the auction and the tradeoffs in
                managing auction pace by changing the bidding schedule, activity
                requirement, bid amounts, or by using other means.
                H. Provisionally Winning Bids
                 45. Under the proposed simultaneous multiple-round auction format,
                the FCC auction bidding system would determine provisionally winning
                bids consistent with practice in past auctions. At the end of a bidding
                round, the bidding system would determine a provisionally winning bid
                for each construction permit based on the highest bid amount received
                for that permit. The FCC auction bidding system would advise bidders of
                the status of their bids when round results are released. A
                provisionally winning bid would remain the provisionally winning bid
                until there is a higher bid on the same construction permit at the
                close of a subsequent round, unless the provisionally winning bid is
                withdrawn (if bid withdrawals are permitted in this auction).
                Provisionally winning bids at the end of the auction would become the
                winning bids. As a reminder, provisionally winning bids count toward
                activity for purposes of the activity rule.
                 46. The FCC auction bidding system assigns a pseudo-random number
                generated by an algorithm to each bid when the bid is entered. If
                identical high bid amounts are submitted on a construction permit in
                any given round (i.e., tied bids), the FCC auction bidding system will
                use these pseudo-random generated numbers to select a single
                provisionally winning bid from among the tied bids. The tied bid with
                the highest pseudo-random number wins the tiebreaker and becomes the
                provisionally winning bid. 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 the construction permit receives any bids
                in a subsequent round, the provisionally winning bid again will be
                determined by the highest bid amount received for the construction
                permit.
                I. Bid Removal and Bid Withdrawal
                 47. Bid Removal. The FCC auction bidding system allows each bidder
                to remove any of the bids it placed in a round before the close of that
                round. By removing a bid placed within a round, a bidder effectively
                ``unsubmits'' the bid. In contrast to the bid withdrawal provisions
                described below, 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. Consistent with the design of the bidding
                system, OEA and MB propose that bidders in Auction 112 would be
                permitted to remove bids placed in a round before the close of that
                round.
                 48. Bid Withdrawal. OEA and MB propose not to permit bidders in
                Auction 112 to withdraw bids. 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
                would be able to withdraw its provisionally winning bids using the
                withdraw function in the FCC auction bidding system. A bidder that
                withdraws its provisionally winning bid(s), if permitted, is subject to
                the bid withdrawal payment provisions of the Commission's rules.
                 49. The Commission has recognized that bid withdrawals may be a
                helpful tool in certain circumstances for bidders seeking to
                efficiently aggregate products or implement backup strategies. The
                Commission has also acknowledged that allowing bid withdrawals may
                encourage insincere bidding or increased opportunities for undesirable
                strategic bidding in certain circumstances. The Commission stated that
                this discretion should be exercised assertively, consider limiting the
                number of rounds in which bidders may withdraw bids, and prevent
                bidders from bidding on a particular market if they find a bidder is
                abusing the Commission's bid withdrawal procedures. In managing the
                auction, therefore, OEA and MB have discretion to limit the number of
                withdrawals to prevent bidding abuses.
                 50. Based on this guidance and on experience with past auctions of
                broadcast construction permits, OEA and MB propose to prohibit bidders
                from withdrawing any bid after the close of the round in which that bid
                was placed. OEA and MB make this proposal in light of the site-specific
                nature and wide geographic dispersion of the permits available in this
                auction, which suggest that potential applicants for this auction may
                have fewer incentives to aggregate permits through the auction process
                (as compared with bidders in many auctions of wireless licenses). Thus,
                OEA and MB believe that it is unlikely that bidders will have a need to
                withdraw bids in this auction. Further, OEA and MB are mindful that bid
                withdrawals, particularly if they were made late in this auction, could
                result in delays in licensing new broadcast stations and attendant
                delays in the offering of new broadcast service to the public. OEA and
                MB seek comment on the proposal to prohibit bid withdrawals in Auction
                112. Commenters advocating alternative approaches should support their
                arguments by taking into account the construction permits offered, the
                impact of auction dynamics and the pricing mechanism, and the effects
                on the bidding strategies of other bidders.
                [[Page 68210]]
                V. Tutorial and Additional Information for Applicants
                 51. The Commission intends to provide additional information on the
                bidding system and to offer demonstrations and other educational
                opportunities for applicants in Auction 112 to familiarize themselves
                with the FCC auction application system and the auction bidding system.
                For example, OEA and MB intend to release an online tutorial that will
                help applicants understand the procedures to be followed in the filing
                of their auction short-form applications (FCC Form 175) and on the
                bidding procedures for Auction 112.
                VI. Procedural Matters
                A. Paperwork Reduction Act
                 52. The Auction 112 Comment Public Notice contains proposed new or
                modified information collection requirements. As part of the
                Commission's continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, OEA and MB
                invite the general public and the Office of Management and Budget to
                comment on the information collection requirements contained in this
                document, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA). In
                addition, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002,
                OEA and MB seek specific comment on how they might further reduce the
                information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer
                than 25 employees.
                B. Supplemental Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
                 53. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as
                amended (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 603, the Commission prepared Initial Regulatory
                Flexibility Analyses (IRFAs) in connection with the Broadcast
                Competitive Bidding Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), 62 FR 65392,
                December 12, 1997, and other Commission NPRMs (collectively,
                Competitive Bidding NPRMs) pursuant to which Auction 112 will be
                conducted. Final Regulatory Flexibility Analyses (FRFAs) likewise were
                prepared in the Broadcast Competitive Bidding Order, 63 FR 48615,
                September 11, 1998, and other Commission rulemaking orders
                (collectively, Competitive Bidding Orders) pursuant to which Auction
                112 will be conducted. OEA and MB have prepared this Supplemental
                Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (Supplemental IRFA) of the
                possible significant economic impact on small entities of the policies
                and rules addressed in the Auction 112 Comment Public Notice, to
                supplement the Commission's Initial and Final Regulatory Flexibility
                Analyses completed in the Competitive Bidding NPRMs and the Competitive
                Bidding Orders pursuant to which Auction 112 will be conducted. Written
                public comments are requested on this Supplemental IRFA. Comments must
                be identified as responses to the Supplemental IRFA and must be filed
                by the same filing deadlines for comments specified on the first page
                of the Auction 112 Comment Public Notice. The Commission will send a
                copy of the Auction 112 Comment Public Notice, including this
                Supplemental IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small
                Business Administration (SBA).
                1. Need for, and Objectives of, the Public Notice
                 54. The proposed procedures for the conduct of Auction 112, as
                described in the Auction 112 Comment Public Notice, would constitute
                the more specific implementation of the competitive bidding rules
                contemplated by parts 1 and 73 of the Commission's rules, adopted by
                the Commission in multiple notice-and-comment rulemaking proceedings,
                including the Commission's establishment in the underlying rulemaking
                orders of additional procedures to be used on delegated authority. More
                specifically, the Auction 112 Comment Public Notice seeks comment on
                proposed procedures, terms, and conditions governing Auction 112, as
                well as the minimum opening bid amounts for the specified construction
                permits, and it is fully consistent with the underlying rulemaking
                orders, including the Broadcast Competitive Bidding Order and other
                relevant competitive bidding orders.
                 55. The Auction 112 Comment Public Notice provides notice of
                proposed auction procedures and adequate time for Auction 112
                applicants to comment on those proposed procedures. To promote the
                efficient and fair administration of the competitive bidding process
                for all Auction 112 participants, including small businesses, the
                Auction 112 Comment Public Notice seeks comment on the following
                proposed procedures:
                 A requirement that any applicant seeking to participate in
                Auction 112 certify in its short-form application, under penalty of
                perjury, that it has read the public notice adopting procedures for
                Auction 112 that will be released in advance of the short-form
                deadline, and that it has familiarized itself with those procedures and
                the requirements for obtaining a construction permit for an FPTV
                station;
                 establishment of an interim bid withdrawal percentage of
                20% of the withdrawn bid in the event that OEA and MB allow bid
                withdrawals in Auction 112;
                 establishment of an additional default payment of 20%
                under 47 CFR 1.2104(g)(2) in the event that a winning bidder defaults
                or is disqualified after the auction;
                 use of a simultaneous multiple-round auction format,
                consisting of sequential bidding rounds with a simultaneous stopping
                rule (with discretion to exercise alternative stopping rules under
                certain circumstances);
                 retention by OEA, in conjunction with MB, of its
                discretion to delay, suspend, or cancel bidding in Auction 112 for any
                reason that affects the fair and efficient conduct of the competitive
                bidding process;
                 retention by OEA of its discretion to adjust the bidding
                schedule in order to manage the pace of Auction 112;
                 a specific minimum opening bid amount for each
                construction permit available in Auction 112;
                 a specific number of bidding units for each construction
                permit;
                 a specific upfront payment amount for each construction
                permit;
                 establishment of a bidder's initial bidding eligibility in
                bidding units based on that bidder's upfront payment through assignment
                of a specific number of bidding units for each construction permit;
                 use of an activity requirement so that bidders must bid
                actively during the auction rather than waiting until late in the
                auction before participating;
                 a single stage auction in which a bidder is required to be
                active on 100% of its bidding eligibility in each round of the auction;
                 provision of three activity waivers for each qualified
                bidder to allow it to preserve eligibility during the course of the
                auction;
                 use of minimum acceptable bid amounts and additional bid
                increments, along with a proposed methodology for calculating such
                amounts, while retaining discretion to change their methodology if
                circumstances dictate;
                 bid removal procedures; and
                 proposal to allow for bid removals (before the close of a
                bidding round) but not allow bid withdrawals (after the close of a
                bidding round).
                2. Legal Basis
                 56. The Commission's statutory obligations to small businesses
                participating in a spectrum auction
                [[Page 68211]]
                under the Act are found in sections 309(j)(3)(B) and 309(j)(4)(D). The
                statutory basis for the Commission's competitive bidding rules is found
                in various provisions of the Act, including 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 301,
                303(e), 303(f), 303(r), 304, 307, and 309(j). The Commission has
                established a framework of competitive bidding rules pursuant to which
                it has conducted auctions since the inception of the auction program in
                1994 and would conduct Auction 112. The Commission has directed that
                OEA and MB, under delegated authority, seek comment on a variety of
                auction-specific procedures prior to the start of bidding in each
                auction.
                3. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which
                the Proposed Procedures Will Apply
                 57. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of and, where
                feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be
                affected by the proposed procedures, if adopted. The RFA generally
                defines the term ``small entity'' as having the same meaning as the
                terms ``small business,'' ``small organization,'' and ``small
                government jurisdiction.'' In addition, the term ``small business'' has
                the same meaning as the term ``small business concern'' under the Small
                Business Act. A ``small business concern'' is one which: (1) Is
                independently owned and operated, (2) is not dominant in its field of
                operation, and (3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the
                SBA.
                 58. The specific procedures and minimum opening bid amounts on
                which comment is sought in the Auction 112 Comment Public Notice will
                directly affect all applicants participating in Auction 112. OEA and MB
                expect that the pool of applicants who seek to bid in Auction 112 will
                include firms of all sizes.
                 59. Television Broadcasting. This Economic Census category
                comprises establishments primarily engaged in broadcasting images
                together with sound. These establishments operate television broadcast
                studios and facilities for the programming and transmission of programs
                to the public. These establishments also produce or transmit visual
                programming to affiliated broadcast television stations, which in turn
                broadcast the programs to the public on a predetermined schedule.
                Programming may originate in their own studio, from an affiliated
                network, or from external sources. The SBA has created the following
                small business size standard for such businesses: Those having $41.5
                million or less in annual receipts. The 2012 Economic Census reports
                that 751 firms operated that entire year. Of that number, 656 had
                annual receipts of $25,000,000 or less, and 25 had annual receipts
                between $25,000,000 and $49,999,999. Based on this data OEA and MB
                therefore estimates that the majority of commercial television
                broadcasters are small entities under the applicable SBA size standard.
                 60. Additionally, the Commission has estimated the number of
                licensed commercial television stations to be 1,374. Of this total,
                1,269 stations (or about 92.5%) had revenues of $41.5 million or less,
                according to Commission staff review of the BIA Kelsey Inc. Media
                Access Pro Television Database (BIA) in April 20, 2021, and therefore
                these stations qualify as small entities under the SBA definition.
                 61. In addition, the Commission has estimated the number of
                licensed noncommercial educational (NCE) television stations to be 384.
                These stations are non-profit, and therefore considered to be small
                entities.
                 62. There are also 2,371 low power television stations, including
                Class A stations, and 3,306 TV translators. Given the nature of these
                services, OEA and MB presume that all of these entities qualify as
                small entities under the SBA small business size standard.
                 63. OEA and MB note, however, that the SBA size standard data do
                not allow for a meaningful estimate of the number of small entities
                that may participate in Auction 112.
                 64. In assessing whether a business entity qualifies as small under
                the SBA definition, business control affiliations must be included. The
                estimates above therefore likely overstate the number of small entities
                that might be affected by this auction because the revenue figures on
                which this estimate is based does not include or aggregate revenues
                from affiliated companies. Moreover, the definition of small business
                also requires that an entity not be dominant in its field of operation
                and that the entity be independently owned and operated. The estimate
                of small businesses to which Auction 112 competitive bidding rules may
                apply does not exclude any television station from the definition of a
                small business on these bases and is therefore over-inclusive to that
                extent. Furthermore, OEA and MB are unable at this time to define or
                quantify the criteria that would establish whether a specific
                television station is dominant in its field of operation.
                 65. OEA and MB also note that they are unable to accurately develop
                an estimate of how many of the potential Auction 112 applicants might
                prove to be small businesses based on the number of small entities that
                applied to participate in prior broadcast auctions because that
                information is not collected from applicants for broadcast auctions in
                which bidding credits are not based on an applicant's size (as is the
                case in some auctions of licenses for wireless services). OEA and MB
                conclude, however, that the majority of Auction 112 eligible bidders
                will likely meet the SBA's definition of a small business concern.
                4. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other
                Compliance Requirements for Small Entities
                 66. The Commission designed the auction application process itself
                to minimize reporting and compliance requirements for all applicants,
                including small business applicants. To participate in this auction,
                parties will file streamlined, short-form applications in which they
                certify under penalty of perjury as to their qualifications.
                Eligibility to participate in bidding is based on an applicant's short-
                form application and certifications, as well as its upfront payment. In
                the second phase of the process, there are additional compliance
                requirements for winning bidders. Thus, a small business that fails to
                become a winning bidder does not need to satisfy additional
                requirements of a winning bidder.
                 67. OEA and MB do not expect the processes and procedures proposed
                in the Auction 112 Comment Public Notice will require small entities to
                hire attorneys, engineers, consultants, or other professionals to
                participate in Auction 112 and comply with the procedures ultimately
                adopted because of the information, resources, and guidance OEA and MB
                make available to potential and actual participants. For example, OEA
                and MB intend to release an online tutorial that will help applicants
                understand the procedures for filing the auction short-form application
                (FCC Form 175). OEA and MB also intend to make information on the
                bidding system available and to offer demonstrations and other
                educational opportunities for applicants in Auction 112 to familiarize
                themselves with the FCC auction application system and the auction
                bidding system. By providing these resources as well as the resources
                discussed below, OEA and MB expect small business entities who use the
                available resources to experience lower participation and compliance
                costs. Nevertheless, while OEA and MB cannot quantify the cost of
                compliance with the proposed procedures, OEA and MB do not believe that
                the costs of
                [[Page 68212]]
                compliance will unduly burden small entities that choose to participate
                in the auction because the proposals for Auction 112 are similar in
                many respects to the procedures in recent auctions conducted by the
                Commission.
                5. Steps Taken To Minimize the Significant Economic Impact on Small
                Entities, and Significant Alternatives Considered
                 68. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant,
                specifically small business, alternatives that it has considered in
                reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four
                alternatives (among others): (1) The establishment of differing
                compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into
                account the resources available to small entities; (2) the
                clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance and
                reporting requirements under the rule for such small entities; (3) the
                use of performance rather than design standards; and (4) an exemption
                from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for such small
                entities.
                 69. OEA and MB have taken steps to minimize any economic impact of
                the auction procedures on small businesses through, among other things,
                the many resources provided to potential auction participants. Small
                entities and other auction participants may seek clarification of or
                guidance on complying with competitive bidding rules and procedures,
                reporting requirements, and the FCC's auction bidding system. An FCC
                Auctions Hotline provides access to Commission staff for information
                about the auction process and procedures. The FCC Auctions Technical
                Support Hotline is another resource which provides technical assistance
                to applicants, including small entities, on issues such as access to or
                navigation within the electronic FCC Form 175 and use of the FCC's
                auction bidding system. Small entities may also use the web-based,
                interactive online tutorial produced by Commission staff to familiarize
                themselves with auction procedures, filing requirements, bidding
                procedures, and other matters related to an auction.
                 70. The Commission also makes various databases and other sources
                of information, including the Auctions program websites and copies of
                Commission decisions, available to the public without charge, providing
                a low-cost mechanism for small entities to conduct research prior to
                and throughout the auction. Prior to and at the close of Auction 112,
                OEA and MB will post public notices on the Auctions website, which
                articulate the procedures and deadlines for the auction. OEA and MB
                make this information easily accessible and without charge to benefit
                all Auction 112 applicants, including small entities, thereby lowering
                their administrative costs to comply with the Commission's competitive
                bidding rules.
                 71. Prior to the start of bidding, eligible bidders will be given
                an opportunity to become familiar with auction procedures and the
                bidding system by participating in a mock auction. Further, OEA and MB
                intend to conduct Auction 112 electronically over the internet using a
                web-based auction system that eliminates the need for bidders to be
                physically present in a specific location. Qualified bidders also have
                the option to place bids by telephone. These mechanisms are made
                available to facilitate participation in Auction 112 by all eligible
                bidders and may result in significant cost savings for small business
                entities that use these alternatives. Moreover, the adoption of bidding
                procedures in advance of the auction, consistent with statutory
                directive, is designed to ensure that the auction will be administered
                predictably and fairly for all participants, including small entities.
                6. Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the
                Proposed Rules
                 72. None.
                C. Deadlines and Filing Procedures
                 73. Interested parties may file comments or reply comments on or
                before the dates indicated on the first page of this document in AU
                Docket No. 21-449. Comments may be filed using the Commission's
                Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS).
                 74. Ex Parte Requirements. This proceeding has been designated as a
                ``permit-but-disclose'' proceeding in accordance with the Commission's
                ex parte rules. Persons making ex parte presentations must file a copy
                of any written presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral
                presentation within two business days after the presentation (unless a
                different deadline applicable to the Sunshine period applies). Persons
                making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda
                summarizing the presentations must (1) list all persons attending or
                otherwise participating in the meeting at which the ex parte
                presentation was made, and (2) summarize all data presented and
                arguments made during the presentation. If the presentation consisted
                in whole or in part of the presentation of data or arguments already
                reflected in the presenter's written comments, memoranda, or other
                filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to such
                data or arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or other
                filings (specifying the relevant page and/or paragraph numbers where
                such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them in the
                memorandum. Documents shown or given to the Commission staff during ex
                parte meetings are deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must
                be filed consistent with 47 CFR 1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by
                47 CFR 1.49(f) or for which the Commission has made available a method
                of electronic filing, written ex parte presentations and memoranda
                summarizing oral ex parte presentations, and all attachments thereto,
                must be filed through the Electronic Comment Filing System available
                for that proceeding, and must be filed in their native format (e.g.,
                .doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding
                should familiarize themselves with the Commission's ex parte rules.
                Federal Communications Commission.
                William W. Huber,
                Associate Chief, Auctions Division, Office of Economics and Analytics.
                [FR Doc. 2021-26001 Filed 11-30-21; 8:45 am]
                BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
                

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