Most US TV stations are in the process of altering their broadcast spectrum licenses, resulting in channel changes, shared tech, and, in some cases, buyouts

Featured Article

2018.09.27, Thursday

NAB Urges FCC To Minimize Consumer Disruptions, Wait To Prioritize Repack Reimbursements

[Source: TV Technology]

The Federal Communications Commission 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 Sept. 26 with the agency.

The comments, filed in reference to the FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on reimbursement of repack-associated expenses to LPTV, TV Translator and FM radio stations, also pointed out the agency has no reason at the moment to think the additional funds won’t cover the expenses of “all eligible entities”

A key point in the filing centers on how Congress apportioned funding in its Reimbursement Expansion Act (REA), which passed in March. Of the $1 billion, Congress apportioned $600 million for FY 2018 and $400 million for FY 2019. The law caps FY 2018 spending at $600 million but does not restrict how the $400 million FY 2019 funds are allocated.

“At the outset, the plain language of the REA includes no limitations on how to allocate FY 2019 funds, in stark contrast to the express limitations for FY 2018 funds,” NAB said in the filing. The association told the commission that the language of the act “confirms that FY 2019 funds may supplement the funding levels made available in 2018.”

The NPRM sought comment on whether or not, and if so, how, reimbursement payments from FY 2019 funds should be prioritized. NAB urged the FCC only to prioritize funding if the facts prove doing so is needed. That will only become clear once FM and LPTV stations submit their cost estimates, NAB said.

“The Commission presently has no reason to believe that the $1 billion Congress appropriated will prove inadequate to reimburse all eligible entities for expenses associated with repacking and a limited basis, if any, for guessing where shortfalls are likely to arise. The Commission may have sufficient funds available to reimburse all eligible entities for expenses incurred during repacking, meaning that any prioritization at this point could prove unnecessary,” NAB said.

The FCC has a statutory deadline of Mach 23, 2019, to put in place rules for reimbursing FM and LPTV stations. Shortly after that, FM and LPTV stations will submit their estimates, and TV stations and MVPDs will have provided updated information on their repack expenses. Only then will the agency know if there won’t be adequate funds, how big the shortfall will be and how to prioritize payments, the association said. “Waiting to see whether prioritizing reimbursement will be necessary is the most reasonable approach,” the filing said.

However, if the commission insists on prioritizing payments, NAB offered its desired approach. First, allocate funds as soon as possible to make sure FM stations receive 80 percent of actual or estimated costs and that at least $50 million specified in FY2018 funds is allocated to FM stations; second, fully reimburse full-power and Class A TV stations being involuntarily repacked; third –if funds are available—fully reimburse FM radio stations impacted in the repack; and fourth, “use remaining funds to reimburse displaced LPTV stations and translators for any costs exceeding $150 million [which Congress set aside to cover their relocation expenses].”

(A separate filing this week from the National Translator Association places the estimated relocation expenses of LPTV and TV Translator stations at about $77 million.)

The filing is available online.

Recent News from Around the Web

As White House holds 5G summit, FCC debuts industry-guiding 5G FAST Plan

[Source: VentureBeat] …[FCC Chairman Ajit] Pai also used the Summit as an opportunity to release the FCC’s 5G FAST Plan, described as a comprehensive strategy to “Facilitate American Superiority in 5G Technology.” The plan has three key ...

NPR urges FCC to provide ‘full reimbursement’ for radio stations affected by repack

[Source: Current] Public radio stations should be fully reimbursed for the costs of moving their antennas to avoid service disruptions as TV stations shift to new channel assignments following the FCC’s spectrum auction, NPR said in comments ...

AT&T likely to start refarming low-band spectrum for 5G next year

[Source: FierceWireless News] …While T-Mobile is banking on its heavy reservoir of 600 MHz for its 5G deployment, AT&T and Verizon have been focused on millimeter wave (mmWave)—mostly 39 GHz and 28 GHz, respectively—for their initial ...

ACA: MVPDs Should Get Priority Access to Repack Funds

[Source: Multichannel News] The American Cable Association says MPVDs and full power and Class A TV stations should get priority access to $400 million in 2019 incentive auction relocation funds before FM radio stations or low powers and ...

T-Mobile continues Puerto Rico 600MHz rollout

[Source: TeleGeography] Neville Ray, CTO at T-Mobile US, has revealed that the cellco’s 600MHz ‘Extended Range LTE’ rollout on Puerto Rico continues to gather pace. In an announcement on Twitter on 26 September, Ray noted: ‘The T-Mobile network ...

Broadcasters Urge More FCC Funding To Offset Repack Costs

[Source: Law360] Several major broadcasters and trade groups told the Federal Communications Commission in filings posted Wednesday that it should offer more reimbursements to help them cover the cost of the broadcast incentive auction…

NAB Urges FCC to Minimize Repack Disruptions

[Source: Radio World] The Federal Communications Commission 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 ...

NAB Urges FCC To Minimize Consumer Disruptions, Wait To Prioritize Repack Reimbursements

[Source: TV Technology] The Federal Communications Commission 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 ...

NTA Proposes ‘Fast Track’ Approach To Translator Repack Reimbursement

[Source: TV Technology] The National Translator Association today filed comments with the FCC asking the agency to adopt a “Fast Track” approach and streamlined application process for repack expenses and limit reimbursement to no more than ...

5G is in reach. But only if we set the right policies.

[Source: Washington Post] Ajit Pai, FCC Chairman: “…the FCC has been aggressively making more radio waves available for Americans to use. Last year, we concluded the world’s first incentive auction, in which spectrum once used by TV ...