Senators Question FCC Repack Time, Money

Democrats Maria Cantwell and Jeanne Shaheen ask FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to provide an analysis of whether the $1.75 billion and 39-month time frame are adequate for the repack “within 105 days after the completion of the forward portion of the [incentive] auction.”

Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) on Wednesday sent a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler saying they “interested in learning more about the FCC’s plan to ensure a successful repack of television stations that minimizes disruption to viewers and local broadcasters.”

Specifically, the two wrote, they want information “on the agency’s preparation for the possibility that the 39-month timetable for repacking may be insufficient” and asked for details on what the FCC intends to do should the $1.75 billion TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund “be inadequate to fully compensate local stations that are required to be relocated in order to accommodate the auction.”

Cantwell and Shaheen said they are worried about the “sheer volume of variables that are difficult to predict or impossible to control.” In addition, they said, they are concerned “that the FCC cannot ensure that antennas, transmitters and other equipment necessary for relocation will be available to stations to ensure a seamless repack.”

“Finally,” they continued, “there remains a lack of clarity on how the status of border agreements regarding channel assignments with Canada and Mexico will impact the timing of this repack.”

They requested that the commission provide an analysis of whether the $1.75 billion and 39-month time frame are adequate for the repack “within 105 days after the completion of the forward portion of the auction.”


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Ellen Samrock says:

June 30, 2016 at 12:38 pm

Contrary to the NAB admonition, the Obama admin. is all about getting the auction done and NOT getting it right. We just witnessed that yesterday. So Congress is right to ask these questions. But while legislators are asking questions about repack money and other issues they should also be prompted to ask as to how LPTV and translators will be compensated. These will be the broadcast TV services most adversely affected by the repack. Hopefully, the GAO report on LPTV will be ready by the time any legislation is being hammered out. Frankly, I have never seen an FCC chairman who has been hauled before Congress as many times as Wheeler has been. Overreach and contempt for a congressional committee does have its consequences.


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