FCC OKs Radio, LPTV Repack Cash


Long-awaited funds designed to reimburse owners of FM radio stations and certain LPTV and TV translator stations for expenses incurred as a result of the FCC’s post-incentive auction repack process will soon be on the way from the Federal government.

The FCC today adopted rules to reimburse eligible LPTVs, TV translators and FM stations for expenses incurred.

In doing so, it satisfied the 2018 Reimbursement Expansion Act’s statutory deadline by just eight days; Report and Order adoption was needed by March 23.

The REA expanded the list of entities eligible for reimbursement for post-incentive auction transition-related expenses to include these categories of broadcast stations, in addition to full power and Class A TV stations and multichannel video programing distributors (MVPDs), which are already being reimbursed with funds provided under the Spectrum Act.

The REA provided additional funds to be used for this purpose, as well as to reimburse full power and Class A stations and MVPDs, and it also provided funds to the Commission to be used for consumer education purposes.

The Report and Order concludes that LPTV and TV translator stations are eligible for reimbursement if they filed an application during the Commission’s Special Displacement Window and obtained a construction permit, and were licensed and transmitting for at least nine of the twelve months prior to April 13, 2017, as required by the REA.

It also concludes that full power FM stations, low power FM stations, and FM translators that were licensed and transmitting on April 13, 2017, using the facilities affected by a repacked television station, are eligible for reimbursement.  This includes FM stations that incur costs to permanently relocate, temporarily or permanently modify their facilities, or purchase or modify auxiliary facilities to provide service during work on a repacked television station’s facilities.

Lastly, the Report and Order adopts a mechanism for reimbursing the newly eligible entities that is substantially similar to the process currently used by the Commission to reimburse full power and Class A stations and MVPDs.

The R&O’s approval was unanimous.

NAB EVP/Communications Dennis Wharton was quick to offer comment on the order“NAB appreciates the efforts of FCC staff to expeditiously implement rules to protect viewers and listeners during the repack,” he said. “Under a tight timeline, the staff worked incredibly hard to reach a balanced outcome that is as fair as possible given the challenges presented by the repack. We are committed to working with the Commission to ensure that tens of millions of viewers and listeners do not lose radio and TV service as the repack continues.”

American Cable Association President/CEO Matthew M. Polka also chimed in, saying,
“ACA thanks the FCC for giving MVPDs and others priority access to the $400 million
appropriated to the TV Broadcast Relocation Fund for 2019. It is proper that MVPDs, full power and Class A stations are fully reimbursed for any expenses incurred during the post-Incentive Auction transition, and the FCC’s decision today is consistent with Congress’ intent.”