Raycom Media CEO Pat LaPlatney today endorsed proposed legislation that would provide additional reimbursement funds for stations forced to move in the repack if the FCC deems them necessary and it would prohibit the FCC from shutting down stations that can't move to their new channels within 39 months. Also, he says, by eliminating some of the uncertainty from the repack, Congress will be encouraging broadcasters to implement ATSC 3.0.
LaPlatney Touts Broadcast Repack Bill
Raycom Media CEO Pat LaPlatney today endorsed draft legislation that would ensure “broadcasters have adequate time and resources to successfully repack following the close of the incentive auction.”
If enacted, the measure would “make certain that no consumer will lose access to their broadcast service as a result of this repack,” he said in prepared testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee.
And by eliminating some of the uncertainty from the repack, he said, Congress will be encouraging broadcasters to implement ATSC 3.0, the new broadcast standard.
Next Gen TV will enable “more and better emergency services, including enhanced alerting, interactive menus with hyper-local detail and the potential for mobile access had cellular signals failed,” he said.
The legislation, which has not yet been introduced, has bi-partisan backing, including Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
In the wake of the incentive auction, in which the FCC bought spectrum from broadcasters and resold it to wireless carries, the FCC must repack or reorganize the TV band to segregate the newly allocated wireless spectrum from the remaining TV spectrum. The repack involves moving hundreds of TV stations to new channels.
Congress and the FCC have set aside $1.75 billion from the action proceeds to reimburse stations for the cost of their migration, and they are giving stations 39 months to complete their moves. That may not be enough time or money, broadcasters fear. Getting extra time and money should they be needed is one of NAB’s legislative priorities.
As now written, the legislation would provide additional reimbursement funds if the FCC says they are necessary and it would prohibit the FCC from shutting down stations that can’t move to their new channels within 39 months “due to reasons outside the control of the station.”
Getting an extension on the 39 months will not be easy. At the same hearing, Scott Bergmann, VP of regulatory affairs for CTIA, the wireless industry’s chief trade group, argued against more time.
“We support a seamless repacking process for remaining broadcasters, and we are committed to working collaboratively to achieve the 39-month transition,” he said in his prepared testimony.
“Three years and three months is significantly longer than the wireless industry has had to wait to begin deploying new services to consumers in recent auctions, and any delay would put at risk 5G development, rural buildout and be inequitable to those companies investing nearly $20 billion in new spectrum,” Bergmann said.