FCC Proposes TV Repack Plan

Posted on October 28th, 2016 by

On September 30, 2016, the FCC published a proposed plan for the repack of TV stations into the TV spectrum that will remain after the Incentive Auction concludes. Comments are due by October 31st, and reply comments by November 15th. You can read the proposal here, or instead listen to a webinar here to get some understanding of what the FCC is thinking.

It’s true that not every station will have to change channels post-auction, but we won’t know which ones will until the end of the auction. The FCC has proposed that each station having to channel change be assigned to one of 10 “transition phases” during a 39-month period. A computer will make the ultimate decision on which phase, weighing a number of factors, including interference and location.

Once the final stage rule of the auction has been met, but while the last forward auction bidding is finishing, the FCC will know the repack plan and will send confidential letters to every TV station stating the station’s post-auction channel and technical parameters. The letter will either specify the station’s pre-auction channel and technical parameters (for the lucky stations that won’t have to channel change), or a channel different from its pre-auction channel (in which case, the station will have to change channels). The reason for this early confidential notice is so stations can start planning as soon as possible, and be ready to file for a new channel construction permit as soon as the 90-day window for doing so opens at the close of the auction. The FCC will issue a public notice announcing that they’ve sent the confidential letters.

For those stations that will channel change and are entitled to reimbursement of expenses (those that voluntarily changed to low or hi-vhf channels in the auction don’t get reimbursed), the FCC has launched a beta-version of its online system for stations to file for reimbursement of expenses. You can access it by logging in to LMS using your FRN and password.