FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Monday thanked broadcasters, wireless companies, tower crews, Congress and his staff for making the broadcast spectrum repack a success. Inside Towers reported the deadline for the last group of television stations to vacate their old channel was July 3.
The FCC says more than 99 percent of the 987 repacked TV stations have left their former channels. Those that remain received short extensions due to circumstances beyond their control and are on track to move before the end of summer.
For many stations, the work continues. Up to 15 percent of repacked broadcasters are operating on interim facilities. “In the coming weeks and months, they’ll need to move to their permanent facilities. The FCC will do whatever we can to help make that happen,” said Pai. He also pledged the agency will keep working with broadcasters to educate consumers who need to rescan their TVs so that they can still receive local stations that change channels.
The Chairman gave a shout out to tower crews for their work. “As you may know, I climbed a 131-foot tower in rural Colorado, and that height is a rounding error for some of the tall broadcast towers that you climbed,” he said. “And on top of all that, tower workers are also deploying infrastructure so that wireless carriers can put the licenses awarded to incentive auction winners to use. I think it’s fair to say that no group has done more on the ground and in the air to make the benefits of the broadcast incentive auction a reality.”
NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith said he’s proud of the broadcast television industry “for its Herculean efforts to meet the FCC’s aggressive repacking deadlines, despite complex and extenuating circumstances.” The association thanked the FCC for flexibility in working with stations to facilitate transitions and grant extensions when possible. NAB also thanked Congress for allocating funds to reimburse stations for costs associated with the moves.
Of the repack work for still to be done, Smith said: “NAB will continue to work with the FCC to ensure that these stations are made whole, and that affected viewers regain access to their local channels. In this uncertain time, it is vital that TV viewers have access to local news, entertainment and lifeline information.”