FCC Adopts Rules to Reimburse FM Stations Over TV Repack
|RADIO ONLINE | Friday, March 15, 2019|
The FCC has voted to adopt rules to reimburse FM stations for costs incurred due to the TV repack. It issued a Report and Order (Order) to adopt rules implementing Congress's directive in the 2018 Reimbursement Expansion Act (REA) that the agency reimburse certain FM broadcast stations, LPTV and TV translator stations for costs incurred as a result of the Commission's broadcast television spectrum incentive auction.
In the REA, Congress provided additional funding for the TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund and expanded the list of those eligible to receive reimbursement for costs incurred as a result of the reorganization of broadcast television spectrum to include FM and LPTV/translator stations.
As proposed in the NPRM, the FCC adopted a process to reimburse the newly eligible entities that is similar to that which is currently used to reimburse full power and Class A stations and multichannel video programming distributors. The REA permits the Commission to use the funds appropriated to the Reimbursement Fund for fiscal year 2019 to reimburse eligible FM and LPTV/translator stations.
The agency concludes that full power and low power FM stations and FM translators that were licensed and transmitting on April 13, 2017, using the facilities impacted by the repacked television station are eligible for reimbursement under the REA. The agency says this will include FM stations that incur costs because they must permanently relocate, temporarily or permanently modify their facilities, or purchase or modify auxiliary facilities to provide service during a period of time when construction work is occurring on a collocated, adjacent, or nearby repacked television station's facilities.
The FCC also concluded that it will reimburse up to 100 percent of the costs eligible for reimbursement for FM stations that must relocate permanently, temporarily or permanently modify facilities, or purchase or modify auxiliary equipment to avoid going silent as a result of the repacking process. It will not reimburse LPTV/translator or FM stations for costs for which they have already received reimbursement funding from other sources.
NPR VP/Policy and Representation Michael Riksen said, "This is good news for bystander radio stations whose operations and equipment are affected by TV repack work. We're pleased that the Federal Communications Commission and staff responded to the concerns of public radio stations, and worked quickly to adopt rules to reimburse FM stations for their costs to stay on the air during and after the TV repack. We look forward to continuing to work with the FCC so the reimbursement process unfolds smoothly."
NAB Executive VP/Communications Dennis Wharton said, "NAB appreciates the efforts of FCC staff to expeditiously implement rules to protect viewers and listeners during the repack. 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."