WASHINGTON—The item in the Aug. 14 edition of the Federal Register might as easily have been labeled “Existential Threat Averted,” but instead it was called “Final rule; announcement of compliance date.”
But the former more aptly describes what publication of rules establishing a 60-day filing window for LPTV and TV translator stations to apply for reimbursement of TV spectrum repack-related expenses amounts to for many such stations, says Mike Gravino, director of the LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition.
“… [D]espite a movement to end the LPTV service, our industry has prevailed over those forces and is now poised with [a] new next gen TV standard to blaze the trail into the future, once again,” he says.
The newly opened window gives LPTV stations and TV translator stations displaced by the repack a way to apply for repack expense reimbursement from a $150 million fund Congress established in 2018 to address a segment of the TV industry overlooked when it initially authorized the TV spectrum auction.
“The opening of the filing window … for the Post Auction LPTV Displacement Funding, some $150 million in Congressional funding, is an historic step in keeping over 1,500 of the nations’ secondary TV stations in business and is most welcomed in many small and large communities across the country,” says Gravino.
The coalition director sees the filing window as the culmination of a process that has taken the FCC more than six years to complete.
The coalition of more than 300 LPTV and TV translator licensees is appreciative of “the careful attention to detail” the agency has paid to make sure “as many as possible LPTV and TV translator qualifying entities” have quick access to the reimbursement funds, he says.
Gravino also is urging displaced LPTV stations, in particular, to get busy with their expense reimbursement filings. As opposed to the TV translator community, most LPTV operators affected by the repack haven’t yet begun the preparatory steps, he says.
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