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FCC Allocates Additional $742 Million For Repack Expenses

WASHINGTONGood news for full-power and Class-A TV stations, ditto MVPDs. The Federal Communications Commission’s Media Bureau and Incentive Auction Task Force on Monday announced a further allocation of $742 million for reimbursement of eligible TV spectrum repack expenses.

The allocation brings the amount currently available for eligible entities to $1.742 billion, which represents about 92.5 percent of verified cost estimates at the moment, according to the announcement. However, the agency said that 100 percent of individual invoices for approved expenses are being paid “up to the total amount of the station or MVPD’s allocation.”

The public notice announcing the latest allocation laid out the history of the payments and the caution with which the fund administrator has acted to stay within the $1.75 billion originally allocated by Congress for repack expenses.

In October 2017 when the first allocation was made, the verified estimated cost of the repack, based on the submissions of Form 2100, Schedule 399, totaled $1.86 billion. “The situation imposed significant Fund management challenges,” the notice said.

[Read: Appropriations Bill Includes $600M For 2018 Repack Expenses]

At that time, 52 percent of then-current verified cost estimates for commercial and 62 percent of the estimates for non-commercial educational broadcasters was allocated. However, with passage of the Ray Baum’s Act, Congress supplemented the repack fund with an additional $750 million, taking the total to $2.5 billion.

“The availability of these additional funds substantially mitigates the Fund management challenges described in our Initial Allocation PN [Public Notice] and allows us to make a further allocation in an amount greater than what otherwise would have been possible prior to passage of the legislation,” the notice said.

A statement from NAB welcomed news of the latest allocation of repack funds. “NAB welcomes the FCC making significant additional repack reimbursement funding available following passage of the recent appropriations legislation and RAY BAUM’S Act authorizing additional funding if needed,” said Dennis Wharton, executive vice president of Communications at NAB. “We look forward to continuing to work productively with the Commission to ensure that broadcasters are fully reimbursed and that stations are not forced to reduce service due to circumstances outside their control.”