Senators Tackle Possible Repacking Problems

An amendment introduced today would boost the government fund for relocation expenses for TV stations following the FCC’s auction and repack to $2.75 billion and extend the deadline to complete those moves indefinitely.

A proposed amendment that would add $1 billion to the $1.75 billion reimbursement fund for broadcasters forced to relocate after the FCC’s incentive auction was unveiled today by a bi-partisan coalition of senators led by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).

The amendment, which is targeted for a wireless spectrum bill slated to be voted on by the Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday, also would extend the incentive auction’s existing 39-month buildout transition deadline for broadcasters indefinitely “to ensure that no broadcast television station is forced to stop broadcasting due to reasons outside the control of the broadcast television station,” the text of the amendment says.

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Broadcasters have complained that the incentive auction’s $1.75 billion reimbursement fund could be inadequate to cover the expenses of broadcasters forced to move in the auction’s wake.  Broadcasters have also contended that the auction requirement that broadcasters complete moving to any new facilities required within 39 months after the auction — at risk of possibly losing their licenses — is overly onerous.

Under the amendment, the reimbursement fund would be raised to $2.75 billion.

The other lawmakers said to be supporting the amendment are Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

A similar amendment has been promoted in the House by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.).


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An FCC spokesman declined to comment on the news. The incentive auction is slated to begin March 29.

Comments (4)

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Meagan Zickuhr says:

March 2, 2016 at 7:24 pm

I find it quite comical that NO ONE is speaking of the specific language added to the Auction Rules which say… In lieu of relocation expense reimbursement, stations also may request service rule waivers to make flexible use of their spectrum in order to provide non-broadcast services, as long as they continue to broadcast at least one TV program stream. See Spectrum Act § 6403(b)(4)(B); see § V.C.5.e (Service Rule Waiver in Lieu of Reimbursement). If this would be more heavily Publicized by the FCC, NAB and others… there would be No Need to go back and ask Congress for more Relocation Funds.

Teri Green says:

March 3, 2016 at 10:54 am

This is ridiculous, they should move directly to ATSC 3.0 and allow broadcasters ONE CHANNEL of standard def. If people want high def, let them pay for cable. High def is a gimick, unless you’re watching sports high def has no use. I mean is the news any more accurate and in-depth if you can see the anchor’s pores? Is the Big Bang Theory any more funnier if you can see Sheldon sweat? No. The Internet is and wireless communications are far more important. Allow ONE channel per broadcaster. That would eliminate all repacking problems.

Dante Betteo says:

March 3, 2016 at 4:28 pm

With my Over the Air TV. Yes I can see a difference between 1080 DPI on CBS and NBC and CW and Fox and ABC with 720 DPI. Some of the dash -2 or sub-channels are in 480 wide. I like my free TV don’t take it away. Cable companies are just like any other utility company. However I don’t have to have them. I say screw the internet, it is all adds and pron and wireless are just greedy for space to make even more money.

Dante Betteo says:

March 3, 2016 at 4:30 pm

One Other thing Eric. Most cable companies compress there singles and one does not get high Def.

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