FCC Extends Repack Phase 5 Deadline Due to Dorian

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Broadcasters involved in the television channel spectrum repack located in Hurricane Dorian’s path are getting a break from the FCC. The Incentive Auction Task Force and the Media Bureau extended the phase 5 completion date from September 6 to September 11, at 11:59 p.m.

Noting that there’s uncertainty about the storm’s future path, and its implications for the completion of construction projects related to the transition, the agency is aware phase 5 includes a “significant number” of stations in areas that may be affected by the storm, including North and South Carolina.

“In light of the important role broadcast television stations play in providing critical news and information to viewers during a state of emergency, [the agency has] determined the most prudent approach is to extend the phase completion date for all stations in the phase to assure that viewers will not be required to rescan their TVs during this period and risk missing important emergency news and information,” said the FCC. The extension will enable affected stations to determine their own appropriate time to change channels for their viewers based on the developing conditions in its market. 

Many stations in phase 5 are in markets not impacted by the impending hurricane, including areas of western Georgia, Tennessee, California, and Minnesota. The agency “strongly encouraged” stations not affected by Dorian, and that do not have direct downstream links to stations that are in the hurricane’s path, to continue their channel moves on the original September 6 schedule.

Currently, the FCC doesn’t anticipate changing any other repack testing period start dates or phase completion dates but will continue to monitor the storm and announce any other changes that may be warranted. The Commission will continue to work with individual stations, including those impacted by Hurricane Dorian, on a case-by-case basis.

September 5, 2019

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