FCC Expands Some Repack Reimbursement

The commission authorizes the reimbursement of low-power television, TV translator and FM broadcast stations for costs incurred as a result of the broadcast television spectrum incentive auction repack.

The FCC today adopted rules to reimburse certain low-power TV (LPTV), TV translator and FM stations for eligible expenses incurred as a result of the commission’s incentive auction.

The 2018 Reimbursement Expansion Act (REA) expanded the list of entities eligible for reimbursement for post-incentive auction transition-related expenses to include these categories of stations in addition to full-power and Class A TV stations and multichannel video programing distributors (MVPDs), which are already being reimbursed with funds provided under the Spectrum Act.

The REA provided additional funds to be used for this purpose, as well as to reimburse full-power and Class A stations and MVPDs, and it also provided funds to the commission to be used for consumer education purposes.

The Report and Order adopted today concludes that LPTV and TV translator stations are eligible for reimbursement if:

  • They filed an application during the commission’s Special Displacement Window and obtained a construction permit.
  • They were licensed and transmitting for at least nine of the 12 months prior to April 13, 2017, as required by the REA.

It also concludes that full-power FM stations, low-power FM stations, and FM translators that were licensed and transmitting on April 13, 2017, using the facilities affected by a repacked television station, are eligible for reimbursement. This includes FM stations that incur costs to permanently relocate, temporarily or permanently modify their facilities, or purchase or modify auxiliary facilities to provide service during work on a repacked television station’s facilities.

Finally, the Report and Order adopts a mechanism for reimbursing the newly eligible entities that is substantially similar to the process currently used by the commission to reimburse full-power and Class A stations and MVPDs.

BRAND CONNECTIONS

In response to the FCC’s action, Dennis Wharton NAB EVP of communications, said:

“NAB appreciates the efforts of FCC staff to expeditiously implement rules to protect viewers and listeners during the repack. Under a tight timeline, the staff worked incredibly hard to reach a balanced outcome that is as fair as possible given the challenges presented by the repack. We are committed to working with the commission to ensure that tens of millions of viewers and listeners do not lose radio and TV service as the repack continues.”

And American Cable Association President-CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement: “ACA thanks the FCC for giving MVPDs and others priority access to the $400 million appropriated to the TV Broadcast Relocation Fund for 2019. It is proper that MVPDs, full power and Class A stations are fully reimbursed for any expenses incurred during the post-incentive auction transition, and the FCC’s decision today is consistent with Congress’ intent.”


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