Bill Would Provide $1 Billion Auction Emergency Fund

WASHINGTON—The National Association of Broadcasters says it is a big supporter of a draft bill that would try to ensure a consumer-friendly repack of TV stations after the upcoming incentive auction, including by apparently providing a cushion if the FCC’s $1.75 billion post-auction channel moving expenses is not enough.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee has circulated a draft of the Viewer Protection Act, a bill that would 1) fund a viewer education effort about where to find their TV channel after the repack of stations; 2) create a $1 billion emergency fund the FCC could access “if viewers are at risk of losing their broadcast signal;” and 3) put the FCC on a five-month clock to come up with the repack plan after the auction to speed the spectrum’s transfer to wireless bidders in the forward auction. The FCC would also get limited authority to modify the repack to “protect broadcast viewers.”

John Eggerton of B&C has the details.