FCC Repack Reimbursement Plan Favors TV

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PBS experienced some disappointment in the run-up to Friday’s FCC meeting concerning how repack reimbursements will be distributed.

Before the draft order came out, PBS asked the Commission to reimburse “third parties” like T-Mobile, which has been paying PBS to move its translators to speed up access to that 600 MHz spectrum. The agency rejected that proposal in its draft, noted Current, because those did not meet the definition of displaced stations, and therefore are not eligible to receive repack funds under the Act passed by Congress.

The draft order concerns a total of $1 billion in repack reimbursements funding appropriated over two years. The agency says it will prioritize payments to full power, Class A, and MVPD entities over payments to LPTV/translator and FM entities.

Meanwhile, NPR has been lobbying the agency in an effort to persuade officials not to prioritize TV. After the draft order came out, NPR suggested agency officials disperse the FY 2019 funds, to prioritize full-power TV and FMs over payments to secondary services, like LPTV and TV translators.

“Alternatively, the Commission should wait for more information about costs incurred by eligible entities before making prioritization decisions for FY 2019 funds,” the broadcaster said in an FCC filing describing a discussion between the network and agency officials.

March 13, 2019

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