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NAB Urges FCC to Plan for Repack Sooner Rather Than Later

Spectrum auction is expected to be completed until sometime in Q3 2016

WASHINGTON�The National Association of Broadcasters says it agrees with AT&T that the FCC needs to start intensive planning on the spectrum auction repack now.�The association also says that plan should include factoring in costs and timing of the transition.

“While vital facts about the repack will not be fully understood until the auction concludes, including how many stations will move, where those stations are located, and to which channels they will be moving, the Commission nevertheless can take steps to put in place a structure that will govern the transition and help ensure that viewers do�not lose service and wireless carriers do not face avoidable delays in building out their licenses,” NAB Executive�Vice President and General Counsel Rick Kaplan said�in a letter.

The auction begins March 29 officially, but that is only the date by which TV stations must declare their participation (or not).

The FCC has signaled that given the availability of tower crews and other issues, a regional approach to the repack is likely, and NAB and AT&T�concur.�NAB also says that clearing the most populated areas should be a priority when prioritizing markets for regional clearing.

The plans should also include a dispute resolution system for repacking costs � there is a $1.75 billion fund to cover those � “to provide broadcasters with confidence that they will be reimbursed for their costs,” says NAB, as well as a waiver process “with predictable standards,” for situations where “the transition extends beyond the FCC�s deadlines for a given market or region.”


NAB says the FCC should immediately begin stakeholder outreach on such a repack plan and put in place a communications system.

A version of this story originally appeared on B&C, the sister publication of Radio magazine.