E.W. Scripps comes away empty-handed from FCC spectrum auction

FCC headquarters
Forward bidding for the FCC's broadcast incentive auctions ended Friday at around $19.63 billion, far below early anticipations for the auctions. Image: FCC

While other broadcasters have been revealing expected proceeds from the FCC’s broadcast incentive auctions, E.W. Scripps announced it’s expecting no proceeds at all.

"We pursued several channel-share arrangements with ourselves and other broadcast partners that would have allowed us to continue to operate our stations and serve our local communities while supporting the government in its attempt to recapture some broadcaster spectrum," said Brian Lawlor, senior vice president of broadcast for Scripps, in a statement. "However, none of the spectrum we or our partners offered was selected during the auction process because the prices available in the auction fell below the value we ascribed to it. Scripps will continue to serve each of our local communities using our full spectrum capacity as allocated by the FCC."

Scripps owns 33 television stations in 24 markets ranging from large DMAs like Tampa to smaller DMAs like Twin Falls, Idaho.

RELATED: Forward bidding in incentive auction ends at $19.63B

Scripps’ disappointing results come as forward bidding for the auctions ended Friday at around $19.63 billion, far below early anticipations for the auctions.

The 600 MHz airwaves auctioned off are considered more valuable because of their propagation characteristics that allow for wider coverage areas using fewer towers and better in-building reception. Some thought the auctions could top the record $44.9 billion brought in by the AWS-3 spectrum auction.

Like Scripps, other broadcasters have been announcing expected proceeds from the auctions, and while few are coming away with nothing, actual proceeds are falling below expectations.

Fox Television Stations is expecting to receive approximately $350 million in proceeds from the FCC’s broadcast incentive auctions.

As the Wall Street Journal pointed out, $350 million is well shy of what some analysts predicted the broadcaster, which owns 28 stations in 17 markets and covers over 37% of U.S. television homes, would make during the auction. According to the report, Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker thought Fox could haul in as much as $2 billion during the reverse auction.

Other broadcasters announcing totals include Gray Television ($90.8 million), Tribune Media ($190 million) and Sinclair Broadcast Group ($313 million).