Even With ‘Review and Scrub,’ More For Repack Reimbursement Likely

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The Commission is in the early stages of “repacking” broadcasters that either didn’t participate or weren’t selected in the recently concluded “Auction 1000,” the spectrum auction that will see some stations sign off the air while others — including WNBC-TV in New York — relinquish their broadcast facilities by entering channel-sharing agreements with other stations in the market.

The repack won’t come at a cost to broadcasters, and as of July 14 the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force calculated the aggregate amount of the estimated costs of reimbursement-eligible TV stations and MVPDs faced with new post-incentive auction channel assignments as exactly $2,115,328,744.33.

There’s just one slight problem: Congress established a statutorily set cap of $1.75 billion.

Furthermore, “as a potential oversight,” this cap did not include reimbursement “for the small number of local radio broadcasters that will be affected by the repack,” Republican Commissioner Michael O’Rielly noted in his opening testimony Tuesday during the FCC oversight and reauthorization hearing conducted by the House Energy & Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee.

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