In a meeting with FCC officials, NAB reps said the current 39-month deadline for moving channels during the post-auction repacking of the TV band was “unrealistic.” There are not enough resources to move the channels in that short of time, the NAB said. The EOBC opposed extension of the deadline, saying that more time could be granted on a case-by-case basis.
The NAB has begun a campaign to win more time for TV stations to move their channels in the repacking of the TV band that will follow the incentive auction next year.
In a meeting with FCC officials last Thursday (May 14), NAB reps led by General Counsel Rick Kaplan said the current deadline for moving to new channels — 39 months after they are assigned — is “unrealistic.”
According to an FCC filing, the NAB reps said “constraints” on the resources needed to move the channels “will have a significant effect on broadcasters’ ability to relocate.”
“NAB and its members are committed to completing the repacking process as quickly as possible. The commission should not — and cannot, lawfully — force any station off the air due to delays outside that station’s control.”
In the first half of the incentive auction, the FCC intends to buy the spectrum of hundreds of stations around the country so that it can turn around and sell it to wireless carriers. To aggregate the recovered spectrum for sale, the FCC will require many of the stations that chose not to sell to move to new channels within 39 months.
Those who miss the deadline risk losing government reimbursement for moving their channels and their license.
Word that NAB was pushing for an extension of the deadline met with immediate opposition from the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition, which represents broadcasters eager to sell their stations in the auction.
“We would support individual waiver relief for a station that finds itself genuinely unable to complete its channel relocation at the end of the 39 months,” the EOBC said in a statement. “But it is way premature to consider a wholesale extension of the 39-month transition period that would devalue the spectrum the FCC will auction to carriers.
“Instead, the FCC should get on with the auction, do its best to minimize the number of stations that are repacked (as the FCC has promised to do) and later consider the needs of any individual station that is nearing the 39-month deadline and has been unable to complete its move.”