FCC Issues TV Repack Status Report

Posted on February 28th, 2019 by

On February 11, 2019, the FCC released a detailed report on the status of the post-auction television station repack, noting that the repack is slightly ahead of schedule, and expressing optimism that stations in the final eight phases of the repack will be able to meet their construction deadlines. In our firm’s experience, the FCC staff is glued to station progress reports and contacts station representatives or sends reminders immediately when anything seems amiss. As construction deadlines approach, regular emails and phone calls are commonplace to ensure that stations are completing their transitions.

In recent days, stations in future phases have begun receiving special reminders if they are in linked groups to be certain that they are coordinating channel changes with other stations whose channel changes are dependent on channel changes of other stations in the same phase. These emails note that coordination between linked stations should result in an agreed upon transition schedule for all linked stations in the set detailing when they will conduct testing and commence operations on post-auction channels.

Of particular note are paragraphs 22-30 of the report, where the Commission outlines certain closeout reimbursement procedures for the first time. There, the FCC announces that once a station completes its transition and has submitted all reimbursement documentation (or no later than an FCC-announced deadline), it is required to submit the Form 399 Reimbursement Form to notify the FCC that all requests for reimbursement have been submitted. The form will then be locked and the station will not be able to submit any further requests for reimbursement. The Fund Administrator will then provide the station with a financial reconciliation statement so that final amounts can be tallied and either funded or returned to the FCC if there were overpayments. Following a certification of that statement, the Media Bureau will then issue the station an interim close-out letter. Later, when the FCC allocates all remaining funds for reimbursement payments, a final close-out letter will be issued. Audits are possible at any time. Stations are to retain all paperwork for reimbursed expenses.