Saturday, March 16, 2019

FCC Expands Repack Expense Reimbursements To FM Broadcasters

The Federal Communications Commission today adopted a Report & Order implementing Congress’s directive to expand reimbursements to cover the expenses of certain LPTV and TV translator stations as well as FM broadcasters affected by the agency’s TV spectrum repack.

According to, the vote adopting a Report and Order fulfills the March 23, 2019, deadline set up by Congress in its 2018 Reimbursement Expansion Act (REA) that allocated additional funds to reimburse the eligible expenses of LPTV and TV translator stations, FM broadcasters as well as full power and Class A stations, MVPDs and set aside funds to educate consumers.

LPTV and TV translator stations must meet two eligibility requirements to receive repack-related expense reimbursement payments, including having filed an application with the FCC’ Special Displacement Window and obtaining a construction permit as well as being licensed and transmitting for at least nine of the 12 months prior to April 13, 2017.

The R&O also covers repack reimbursement expenses of full and low-power FM stations and FM translators, licensed and transmitting on April 13, 2017, that have facilities impacted by the TV spectrum repack.

Qualified expenses of FM stations include the cost of permanently relocating, temporarily or permanently modifying facilities or purchasing or modifying auxiliary facilities to maintain service while work on repacked TV stations proceeds.

FCC chair Ajit Pai called it an important process for reimbursing "legitimate" expenses, but made a point of saying it would protect against waste, fraud and abuse.

Commissioner Geoffrey Starks called it a good example of good government working as intended, with Congress appropriating new funds and the FCC moving swiftly to adopt a way to do that.

Most of a thousand TV stations are moving in a 10-phase repack as the FCC frees up the spectrum for wireless carriers who won the rights to the TV spectrum in the incentive auction. The FCC is compensating them for new equipment, tweaked equipment and moving costs. The first phase ended Nov. 30 actually ahead of schedule in that more stations had moved by that date than had to. The second phase ends next month.

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