The FCC has estimated the cost of moving channels will cost television broadcasters an aggregate of $2.1 billion. That figure exceeds the $1.75 billion Congress set aside for reimbursement. Broadcast owners and their engineers predicted the fund would not be sufficient. Indeed, reacting to the figures on Friday, NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith noted the more than $365 million shortfall, and said “Congress’s passage of the voluntary broadcast TV incentive auction legislation was premised on a promise that no TV station would be punished for not participating in the auction.” He added “NAB will work closely with Congress to address this issue, and to additionally ensure that no TV viewer or radio listener loses access to the entertainment and lifeline local broadcast programming they rely on today.”
The FCC’s aggregate estimate is based on cost estimates that television owners and multichannel video programming distributors eligible for reimbursement turned into the Commission by July 12. The number, $2,115,328,744.33 as of 7 a.m. Friday, will likely grow since the FCC says it expects to receive additional approximations from MVPDs and a small number of stations who received extra time.
The Commission and its fund administrator will now review the quotes. That means the aggregate cost estimate “will therefore change for purposes of the initial allocation of reimbursement funds,” said FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force Chair Jean Kiddo.