NAB Asks FCC For More Time For Repack

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.”

Comments (14)

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Ellen Samrock says:

May 17, 2015 at 12:29 pm

Since these are broadcasters leaving the business, the EOBC has no standing here. What they want is irrelevant. The FCC’s repacking timeline is based purely on politics, not practicality. Here again, it’s probably going to take an act of congress to get an increasingly stubborn FCC to budge on this.

Keith ONeal says:

May 17, 2015 at 9:28 pm

39 Months = 3 Years and 3 Months (or 3.25 Years). The NAB says that 3 1/4 Years is not enough time for the ‘repack.’ I disagree. 2 Years is more than enough time IMO.

    Ellen Samrock says:

    May 18, 2015 at 1:45 am

    This FCC-commissioned report explains some of the problems and challenges that the repacking process will pose: Some of these are: a shortage of qualified tower crews, the fact some towers will need to be studied and strengthened before any new equipment can be mounted on them, deploying spectrum purchased in the AWS-3 auction–tower crews will be working simultaneously on broadcast and wireless installations and seasonal weather changes–crews will not be able to work on installing new equipment during times of harsh weather conditions. The report estimates that while some stations can be moved in as little as 12 months others may take as long as five years. The EOBC’s argument that extending the 39 month transition will devalue spectrum is a straw man and totally unprovable.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    May 18, 2015 at 2:05 am

    @Flashflood – again proving why you are not a Broadcaster

    carel rueppel says:

    May 18, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Wow. Clearly you have never built a tv broadcast facility. Especially in places like NYC and Chicago.

    Keith ONeal says:

    May 18, 2015 at 10:20 pm


    Keith ONeal says:

    May 18, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    @Insider ~ So? I still learn by reading articles and intelligent comments from people like D BP. At least, he’s got brains vs. what you have!

Bobbi Proctor says:

May 18, 2015 at 9:26 am

The longer it takes to get this completed the better. With hundreds of stations going off the air and an increase in interference we will without doubt have fewer choices and more reception problems. We are viewers, not broadcasters, and will have poorer television. I have talked to others who rely on antennas for their television along with online TV. They have no idea what the FCC is about to do. I have never seen this mentioned in any daily newspaper.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    May 18, 2015 at 11:03 am

    “Poorer Television” is your view. A viable Industry is the Broadcasters views. Without a viable industry, the viewer ends up with “Zero OTA Television”, not “poorer television”.

    Keith ONeal says:

    May 18, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    @Chuck ~ You are so CORRECT!

Patrick Burns says:

May 18, 2015 at 10:31 am

I have hired 6 tower crews since 1998 and gotten to know their community a bit.

These are true pros & they have families etc, pushing this finite industry is not a safe or smart idea.We need to respect their safety etc.

With weird weather lately , the wireless demand for towers etc. 39 months is not doable or fair etc.SERIOUSLY !!!!

The whole auction is heading toward a spectacular collapse. If you are a true broadcaster, ask yourself , HOW many
of our competitors plan to sell. The list gets short.
Just because you announce a auction does not guarantee a robust auction or inventory of stations.
Wheeler expects to go out as a hero chairman, he got the H wrong, it should be spelled ZERO .

Why do you think the estimates are SO high & the road show to sell so long. Could there be trouble in paradise !!
I would think so.

I think it is gonna be an interesting event or non event !!

Stay tuned ( I couldn’t resist ) !!!.

    Keith ONeal says:

    May 18, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    How much tower work would be required for a station to change channels because of a repack?

Ellen Samrock says:

May 18, 2015 at 11:32 am

Again, I want to reiterate that the FCC IS interested in ATSC 3.0. However, they made it clear that they will not rule on the just the transport layer. The Commission wants the entire standard. The ATSC believes it can have a finished standard by the end of this year. It has been estimated that should the FCC fast-track 3.0 for approval, it will take a minimum of a year (evaluation, comment/reply comment period, etc.). Station owners made it clear at the NAB Show that they DO NOT want to double-build; once for the repack, twice for 3.0. The FCC knows that. So, at least an extra year or two should be built into 39-month deadline to accommodate the evaluation and deployment of 3.0. The future of broadcast television depends on it.

Willie Garrett says:

May 19, 2015 at 9:22 am

Clearly we have reached the point that it is obvious that the wireless industry would like to believe that THEY and THEY alone should have access to any and all spectrum. Not to mention that this is clearly a plan to force an elimination of independent voice and contribution to what the public can view and be informed about by media. This is garbage. They need to be cut off at the knees. They have no regard for the interference THEY cause. They constantly make attempts to attach spectrum that they cannot practically utilize, i.e. bandwidth of proposed service vs width of band. Their stated reliability is pure fantasy and the concept that “all this will remain working in an emergency” is a load plain and simple. That’s why EMCOMM exists, because the infrastructure won’t.. Get the wireless industry representatives and corporate lawyers OUT of the FCC. Get Engineering people that have some concept of actual engineering BACK INTO the FCC. Let’s get our heads OUT of the “De-Reaganulation” era and get back to dealing with managing the spectrum., Get the “Phone Company” back to being the “Phone Company” and make these outfits aware that positioning themselves in the public’s mind as “public utilities” that they have an obligation to provide reailable service TO THE PUBLIC. Their profits for the “board room” are secondary.

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