Spectrum Auction Guru Gary Epstein Exiting FCC

Chaired task force heading up just-completed incentive auction

FCC Incentive Auction Task Force chair Gary Epstein will be exiting the agency at the end of the month, Epstein confirmed to Multichannel News.

Epstein is the luncheon speaker at the Media Institute Wednesday (April 19), where he is expected to announce what will be his fourth "retirement" following years of government service and private practice in the communications space. The move is not a big surprise given that the FCC broadcast incentive spectrum auction closed March 30.

Epstein, a prominent telecommunications attorney, joined the FCC in April 2012 as lead on the incentive auction.

Analyst Weighs Spectrum Auction 'Winners' and 'Losers'

Epstein retired from private practice in 2009 as a partner in Latham & Watkins and head of its communications group before being wooed to the FCC by then-chair Julius Genachowski to tackle the incentive auction, which had been likened to a Rubik’s cube wrapped in duct tape for its level of complexity.

It was a homecoming of sorts for Epstein, who had been chief of the Common Carrier Bureau at the FCC in the early 1980s.

The FCC last week issued its public notice on the final auction tally, identifying the who, where and how much of winning bids in both the reverse and forward portions of the auction.

Related: FCC Auction's Biggest TV Station Payout: $304 Million

"The incentive auction is officially closed," Epstein said last week at the announcement of that notice, "and the 39-month post-auction transition period has begun."

The task force deputy chair is currently Jean Kiddoo, who will now be focused on the post-incentive auction TV station repack.

The auction made available the most low-band spectrum ever offered up by the FCC and was one of its highest grossing in terms of revenue -- $19.8 billion, second only to the AWS-3 spectrum auction in 2014-2015.