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November 11, 2020
NPR's Planet Money Podcast Taps Brattle Principal Coleman Bazelon to Discuss FCC Spectrum Auction

Brattle Principal Coleman Bazelon was a guest on the NPR Planet Money podcast, “Hacking the Perfect Auction.” The podcast explored the 2016 auction held by the Federal Communications Commission for the airwaves over which TV, radio, and wireless signals are transmitted.

As cellphones and other wireless technologies began to take up more of the electromagnetic spectrum, the FCC organized an auction where TV stations could sell their spectrum licenses to help reallocate a scarce resource. It was an enormously complex auction that pitted private equity firms, broadcasters, and telecom companies against each other, and Dr. Bazelon was in the midst of it all. The private equity firms had identified a potential profit opportunity in spectrum licenses owned by small TV stations in anticipation of future demand, and had purchased many of them prior to the auction. At stake were $10 billion in TV station licenses and $20 billion in cell phone licenses. In the podcast, Dr. Bazelon discusses his role consulting for private equity firms leading up to and during the auction.

The full podcast is available on the NPR website.