FCC To Reimburse Up To $150 Million To Stations Affected By TV Repack

FCC Federal Communications Commission Radio AM FM TranslatorThe FCC adopted rules today towards reimbursing FM stations as well as Low Power TV and TV translators “forced to incur costs to permanently relocate, temporarily or permanently modify their facilities, or purchase or modify auxiliary facilities” due to the ongoing television repack.

All FM signals (full-power, LPFM, and translators) that were licensed and operating on April 13, 2017 that shared a tower with a repacked television station will be eligible for reimbursement from the FCC. That includes the aforementioned costs for relocating, modifications of facilities or to build auxiliary facilities while a television station rebuilt theirs.

The FCC was authorized by congress to add protections to these services last year with a March 23 deadline to establish the rules.

The Federal Communications Commission today adopted rules to reimburse certain Low Power TV (LPTV), TV translator, and FM stations for eligible expenses incurred as a result of the Commission’s incentive auction.

The 2018 Reimbursement Expansion Act (REA) expanded the list of entities eligible for reimbursement for post-incentive auction transition-related expenses to include these categories of 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. Adoption of this Report and Order satisfies the REA’s statutory deadline of March 23, 2019.

The Report and Order concludes that LPTV and TV translator stations are eligible for reimbursement if (1) they filed an application during the Commission’s Special Displacement Window and obtained a construction permit, and (2) 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.

Finally, 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.

Action by the Commission March 15, 2019 by Report and Order (FCC 19-21). Chairman Pai,
Commissioners O’Rielly, Carr, Rosenworcel, and Starks approving. Chairman Pai,
Commissioners O’Rielly, Carr, and Starks issuing separate statements.

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