NAB to FCC: Determine Repacking Deadline After Spectrum Auction

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The National Association of Broadcasters yesterday (November 9) asked the FCC to back off its plan to require TV broadcasters to complete their move to new spectrum space—or new channels within 39 months. The broadcasters lobbying group wants FCC to survey the land after the auction, figure out how many stations will need to move and then decide what is a workable deadline. In a three-page letter to the agency sent by NAB General Counsel, EVP/Legal and Regulatory Affairs Rick Kaplan, the NAB said, “depending on the number of stations that ultimately must move to new channels, the current deadline of 39 months may not be achievable. In a report commissioned by NAB, Digital Tech Consulting, Inc. concluded that, under ideal conditions, as many as 445 stations can be relocated to new channels within 39 months. However, if the transition requires more stations to repack, there is simply no way additional stations will be able to meet the current hard deadline. This is not a reasonable approach.”
Rather than establishing a new arbitrary deadline and waiting until after the auction to set a transition deadline based on the scope of the nationwide repack, the FCC could “shorten the deadline should fewer stations than expected need to repack. It also would allow the Commission the flexibility to extend the deadline should the Commission need to repack as many as 850 to 1,150 stations, as previously released Commission data has suggested.” The group continued, “Under any circumstances, NAB believes that the deadlines should be aggressive but reasonable, designed to achieve a transition that enables successful forward auction bidders to begin operation while also ensuring a seamless transition for broadcasters and their viewers.”

November 10, 2015 |
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