Here Come the TV Spectrum Prospectors

Spectrum speculators have already splashed out at least US$345 million in TV station buys ahead of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s incentive auction , says SNL Kagan. According to the firm's two-year compilation, several groups have jumped in to buy 39 TV stations, including 14 full-power stations and 25 low-power Class A stations. NRJ TV LLC is leading the pack, having already forked over $234.2 million for 14 stations. OTA Broadcasting, a unit of Michael Dell's MSD Capital firm, is next, with deals valued at $52.8 million. Here's how it's sizing up:
The land grab has emerged as the FCC, which insists there's a spectrum shortage, prepares to give TV stations the option to sell off some spectrum that, in turn, can be used by wireless carriers to apply to mobile broadband, including 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE). The Commission is expected to kick off the auction in 2014. (See FCC Swaps TV Spectrum for Mobile Broadband and FCC Votes for TV Spectrum Auction.) These early movers are obviously looking to get a hefty return on their investments. They are "no doubt counting on strong demand from wireless buyers and a valuation premium versus what they invested in the stations," SNL Kagan said. Perhaps A&E will spin off this show to follow the drama. — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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