The FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force on Friday morning (7/14) calculated the aggregate amount of the estimated costs of reimbursement-eligible TV stations and MVPDs faced with new post-incentive auction channel assignments.
The figure is upward of $2.1 billion.
As of 7am on July 14, the aggregate amount of the estimated costs reported by reimbursement-eligible entities is exactly $2,115,328,744.33, Jean Kiddoo, Chair of the
FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force, reports.
Stations and MVPDs eligible for FCC reimbursement for expenses tied to shifting to new locations on the broadcast TV spectrum submitted their initial cost estimates throughout this week.
The FCC expects to receive additional estimates from MVPDs and “a small number of stations,” Kiddoo notes.
In addition, the initial estimates that comprise this amount will be subject to “a careful review by the Commission” and its fund administrator. Thus, the aggregate cost estimate provided on Friday will change for purposes of the initial allocation of reimbursement funds, she notes.
There’s just one small problem: The Commission is working with $1.75 billion in reimbursement funds—and it’s now admitted that it doesn’t have enough dough to cover the preliminary moving costs, with an increase instead of a decrease likely on the way.
In response to the FCC’s preliminary estimate of incentive auction repack costs, NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith commented,” Congress’s passage of the voluntary broadcast TV incentive auction legislation was premised on a promise that no TV station would be punished for not participating in the auction. Today’s release of total estimated costs for the ‘TV repack’ shows a shortfall of over $365 million in available repacking funds, with a number of television stations and MVPDs not yet included in the total. That number could grow as stations amend cost estimates due to changed circumstances.”
To that end, Smith pledged that the NAB will work closely with Congress to address this issue, and “to additionally ensure that no TV viewer or radio listener loses access to the entertainment and lifeline local broadcast programming they rely on today.”
House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) also chimed in, saying, “This was a foreseeable issue that Democrats have been warning about since last year, and I plan to introduce the Viewer Protection Act next week in order to fix the problem. My bill, which was released last Congress, will provide additional funding for the incentive auction repacking reimbursements so that no consumer will be without the essential local broadcast stations that they rely on. I hope that the Republicans will quickly take up this legislation to resolve this issue.”
For more information on the post-auction transition, visit www.fcc.gov/incentiveauctions.