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.
By most accounts, transmitter manufacturers and suppliers of antennas and RF components are doing a good job so far of keeping up with the rapid spike in demand caused by the repack. But weather problems are causing major problems for tower crews and delaying a growing number of projects. And repack insiders fear a more significant backup this summer and fall.
The FCC has released its status report on the post-broadcast incentive auction TV station repack, which involves most of 1,000 full-powers and 2,000 low-powers in a 10-phase plan, and as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai signaled last week, the commission is ahead of schedule. It is also making available more money for the TV station transition.
Noncommercial TV stations want the FCC to let them spend the money on a post-incentive auction repack campaign funded by Congress in the Ray Baum’s FCC reauthorization act. That would include coordinating the campaign for both noncommercial and commercial stations.
On Friday, Nov. 30, broadcasters in the first of a 10-phase post incentive auction repack must have completed their move to new channels and ceased broadcasting on their pre-transition channels. Phase two begins Dec. 1. According to the FCC, more than 140 TV stations in over 20 markets will have moved frequencies when phase one is over.
The FCC has invited comments on a “catalog” of categories and amounts it thinks are reasonable for reimbursement of expenses incurred by low-power TV stations as a result of involuntary channel changes imposed by the post-incentive auction repacking of the TV spectrum.
In March 2017, DTV Utah began plans on repacking six of its eight stations that were required to change frequencies as a result of the spectrum auction. DTV Utah is a television transmitter site located in the Oquirrh Mountains above Salt Lake City and was the location of a complex, channel repack project involving nine UHF television stations, with eight of the transmitters combined into a community antenna.
As stations transition to new channel assignments, Congress allocates more money.
The FCC should seek to minimize disruptions to TV viewers and FM radio listeners as it firms up how it will distribute the $1 billion additionally allocated by Congress to reimburse broadcasters for their channel relocation expenses, NAB said in comments filed with the agency.