NAB Has A Repack Chat With The Commission


This moving party probably didn’t feature a large pie from Pizza Paradiso and cold bottles of Yuengling beer.

On Tuesday (4/4), NAB President/CEO and former U.S. Senator Gordon Smith, top NAB lawyer Rick Kaplan and Associate General Counsel Patrick McFadden met with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai; his Chief of Staff, Matthew Berry; and his Acting Media Advisor, Alison Nemeth; to discuss the concerns of broadcast media companies surrounding the repack of TV stations following the close of the broadcast spectrum incentive auction.

In an official letter to the FCC from McFadden, the nature of the meeting with Pai, Berry, and Nemeth was disclosed.

While the NAB appreciates “the tremendous efforts of Commission staff both with respect to successfully closing the auction and designing a scheduling plan for assigning repacked stations to transition phases following the auction,” it remains concerned that under the FCC”s existing rule — which remains the subject of a pending petition for reconsideration — broadcasters are required to cease operation on their pre-auction channels after 39 months, without exception.

The NAB also has concerns under the existing scheduling plan that the Media Bureau “does not intend to grant requests [to waive deadlines] that would disrupt the transition.”

It’s the NAB’s view that these rules could result in viewers losing service despite the best efforts of broadcasters, vendors and Commission staff.

Radio At Risk

NAB is also concerned that the transition plan does not take into account the potentially significant impact the repack will have on non-repacked broadcasters, including FM radio stations.

“These stations and their listeners are threatened with potential service disruptions despite the fact that they have nothing whatsoever to do with the auction,” McFadden said.