O’Rielly Pledges FCC Won’t Force Stations to Go Dark During Repack

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Speaking to attendees of the NAB State Leadership Conference in Washington D.C. Tuesday, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly assured broadcasters that while he wants the 600 MHz station spectrum cleared as soon as possible, “no station should be worried that the FCC would make it go dark and cease offering programming to viewers.”

You have my word that I will not let that happen,” O’Rielly said. He cautioned, however, not to treat that promise, “as an invitation to become complacent or lackadaisical.” If “real and demonstrable unforeseen circumstances develop, the Commission will want to work with the station to address and resolve issues as quickly as possible.”

 It’s up to stations to notify the Commission and work with transition staff when there’s a timing issue, he emphasized.

The repack is in phase 2, with a completion date of mid-April for that phase. Most experts the Commissioner has spoken with, don’t anticipate “tremendous difficulties” until phases 3 and 4, he said.

Inside Towers reported towercos, equipment manufacturers and broadcasters have cautioned the FCC that winter weather, tower crew shortages, equipment shipping issues and other problems will cascade and impact daisy-chained stations as the repack continues.     

Members of state broadcasting associations fly in to D.C. to lobby Congress, the FCC and other relevant federal agencies alongside the NAB during the yearly event.

February 28, 2019

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