Ownership Concentration and Strategic Supply Reduction
NBER Working Paper No. 23034
We explore the sensitivity of the U.S. government's ongoing incentive auction to multi-license ownership by broadcasters. We document significant broadcast TV license purchases by private equity firms prior to the auction and perform a prospective analysis of the effect of ownership concentration on auction outcomes. We find that multi-license holders are able to raise spectrum acquisition costs by 22% by strategically withholding some of their licenses to increase the price for their remaining licenses. We analyze a potential rule change that reduces the distortion in payouts to license holders by up to 80%, but find that lower participation could greatly increase payouts and exacerbate strategic effects.
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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23034