The Viewer and Listener Protection Act of 2017 introduced by Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas is applauded by NAB President Gordon Smith: "This bill addresses the nearly $400 million shortfall in the $1.75 billion repack fund. It also makes clear that no broadcaster will be forced off the air if it makes a good faith effort to meet FCC deadlines."
Senate Bill Would Fully Fund Repack Costs
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) stepped up for broadcasters, introducing a bill that would make sure they are fully compensated for the post-incentive auction repack of the TV band.
The bill — the Viewer and Listener Protection Act of 2017 (S. 1632) — was referred to committee with bi-partisan backing from U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.).
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) earlier introduced companion legislation in the House.
At the time it authorized the incentive action, Congress said to set aside $1.75 billion of the auction proceed to reimburse TV stations for the cost of moving to new channels in the repack.
However, based on estimates from broadcasters, the FCC said the cost would exceed $2.1 billion.
In addition to the funding, the bill would direct the FCC to modify the transition period for a specific broadcast television station if necessary to ensure that no broadcast television station is forced to stop broadcasting for a significant period of time.
“I remain very concerned that rural America will be disproportionately harmed if Congress does not take action to provide adequate resources and an appropriate timeline for the relocation of TV and radio stations,” said Moran in a statement.
“The FCC’s broadcaster incentive auction brought in substantial revenue for taxpayers while empowering communications companies to enhance their networks and improve service.
“Now we must protect and preserve the rural communities served by broadcasters who provide vital services such as news, weather and traffic, as well as entertainment, to millions of Americans nationwide.”
NAB President Gordon Smith said he appreciated the legislation.
“This bill addresses the nearly $400 million shortfall in the $1.75 billion repack fund. It also makes clear that no broadcaster will be forced off the air if it makes a good faith effort to meet FCC deadlines.
“Broadcasters supported the voluntary spectrum auction with an understanding that local stations not participating would not be punished.”