Repack Now in Phase 3

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The television channel repack is now in Phase 3. 115 stations were scheduled to move by Phase 2, which ended April 12. 102 made the deadline and 13 others received agency approval to move later, according to Jean Kiddo, head of the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force.

Four of the 13 completed their moves since the deadline, reports TVNewsCheck. The Commission has been granting Special Temporary Authority to stations to broadcast on interim antennas if they get behind in their tower work. 18 STAs were granted in Phase 2, according to the FCC. The interim antennas usually provide less signal coverage, but they allow stations to vacate their old channels and meet their phase deadlines.

A total of 987 TV stations are moving to new channels over ten phases in a three-year period that’s due to end in July 2020. As of May 2, Kiddo said the repack is 50 stations ahead of schedule with 253 having moved.

Two things helped. Major auction winner T-Mobile paid some broadcasters to move early. TV stations in Puerto Rico moved early too after rebuilding their transmission facilities following Hurricane Maria in 2017, according to TVNewsCheck.

Consulting engineers, towercos, RF equipment vendors and station engineers involved in the tower work of removing old antennas and installing large, heavy new ones, have doubts about meeting the schedule due to weather concerns, Inside Towers reported. Kiddo believes broadcasters can keep to the schedule.

Don Doty, business development manager at tower firm Stainless, praised the FCC for being accommodating. “I have to complement a government agency that said it was going to be flexible and then followed through.”

May 6, 2019

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