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Rulemaking Will Set Out Repack Reimbursement Process

Commission releases more funding for TV

The FCC is freeing up another $742 million for the post-incentive auction repack pot available to TV broadcasters. Eligible entities will now have access to a total of $1.742 billion for expenses related to post-auction construction costs.

But radio stations affected by the TV tower work are still waiting to learn how to apply for relief.

The FCC’s Media Bureau’s Public Notice on Monday detailed the “further allocation” for the TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund. The money is from the original $1.75 billion  Congress required the commission to set aside for full-power and Class A TV stations.

FM radio broadcasters facing disruption to services or relocation expenses due to re-pack TV tower work are in line to receive money for “any unintended and unavoidable costs” incurred as part of money authorized by Congress in Ray Baum’s Act last month, “which included another $750 million for full-power and Class A TV stations, $150 million for low-power TV and TV translator stations, and $50 million for FM radio stations.”

How will stations be able to access that money? According to a statement from the commission, “The FCC is preparing for a rulemaking that will determine procedures and eligible costs for the new entities eligible for reimbursement, including FM radio stations.”

The NAB originally projected the repack’s financial impact on radio at $50 million. The broadcast association says some 600 FMs could be affected by the work, which will continue through 2020, based on a study it commissioned from V-Soft Corp.

NAB Executive VP of Communications Dennis Wharton said in a statement: “NAB welcomes the FCC making significant additional repack reimbursement funding available following passage of the recent appropriations legislation and Ray Baum’s Act authorizing additional funding if needed. We look forward to continuing to work productively with the commission to ensure that broadcasters are fully reimbursed and that stations are not forced to reduce service due to circumstances outside their control.”

The FCC on Monday also reaffirmed that the 39-month post-auction transition period remains unchanged and will not be extended.