FCC Seeks Feedback on Repack Reporting Process

Comments due Jan. 25; replies due Feb. 6 January 10, 2017

WASHINGTON—The Federal Communications Commission proposed its game plan for reimbursing TV stations displaced by the spectrum incentive auction, now in a fourth stage. (Editor’s Note No. 1: A commission spokesman asked TV Technology to clarify that it proposed repack reporting requirements for all auction-eligible stations, including those not eligible for reimbursement.)

The commission issued a Public Notice describing the proposed requirements for periodic progress reports from broadcasters eligible for reimbursements, as well as for ineligible displaced those stations not eligible for reimbursement—“in the same manner and on the same schedule as reimbursement-eligible television stations,” the PN stated. 

Comments are due on the proposal by Jan. 25, 2017, with replies due Feb. 6, 2017.

Congress authorized a $1.75 billion relocation reimbursement fund in the 2012 Spectrum Act for TV stations involuntarily displaced by the auction. The current stage of the auction seeks to reassign 84 out of roughly 300 MHz of TV spectrum, at UHF Chs. 38-51, for wireless broadband, so stations on those frequencies will have to move if the auction closes at 84 MHz.

Stations eligible for reimbursement comprise all full-power and some Class A stations involuntarily assigned to a new channel. The PN said a “small number of Class A stations are not protected during the repacking process, and if displaced as a result of repacking will not be eligible for reimbursement.”

Stations ineligible for reimbursements include reverse auction winners, non-Class A low-power TV stations and translators—used primarily in sparsely populated areas. (Editor’ note No. 2: Only auction-eligible stations would be subject to the proposed reporting requirement, not inclusive of non-Class A LPTVs and translators.) Additionally, LPTVs and translators are not guaranteed a channel assignment after the auction.

Another proposal in accordance with the Spectrum Act allows eligible stations to opt out of a reimbursement for a waiver of FCC service rules “to permit the licensee, subject to interference protections, to make flexible use of the spectrum assigned to the licensee to provide services other than broadcast television services. Such waiver shall only remain in effect while the licensee provides at least one broadcast television program stream on such spectrum at no charge to the public.” (Stat. 227)

Eligible stations seeking reimbursements for relocation expenses will be required to provide quarterly reports to the FCC on construction progress how the funds are being spent. The proposed form for these reports (Appendix A of the PN) asks about the need for approval and permits, environmental impact reviews, tower modifications, what equipment is needed and whether or not it will be available in time for the station to meet its construction deadline.

The reporting requirement will be triggered by the FCC’s Closing Auction and Reassignment Public Notice announcing the close of the auction, starting with the first full calendar quarter after the notice with a deadline of the 10th day of the succeeding calendar quarter.

In addition to the quarterly reports, stations seeking reimbursement will have to file transition progress reports 10 weeks before their construction deadline; 10 days after construction is completed, and five days after they cease broadcasting on their pre-auction channel assignment. All reports will be filed electronically.

Again, comments are due on the proposal by Jan. 25, 2017, with replies due Feb. 6, 2017 on MB Docket No. 16-306, GN Docket No. 12-268.

Also see...
Oct. 4, 2016

FCC Launches TV Station Reimbursement Beta Test
Television stations reassigned to new channels and the multichannel video distributors that carry those stations will file Form 399 to claim reimbursements from the $1.75 billion TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund for expenses they “reasonably incur” in the post-incentive auction repack.

March 25, 2016
Repack Reimbursement Process Outlined
Assuming the auction does close, the statute requires reimbursement within three years of that time.

March 15, 2010
FCC Proposes Reallocating 40 Percent of Broadcast Spectrum
Broadcasters stand to lose 40 percent of their spectrum under the FCC’s new National Broadband Plan.

See more TV Technology coverage at our spectrum auction silo.

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