The incentive auction, where the FCC agreed to buy the spectrum of numerous TV stations so that they could repackage that spectrum and sell it to wireless users, ended with the FCC’s Closing Notice released in April. But, in order to clear contiguous blocks of spectrum for the wireless companies who bought spectrum in the auction, the FCC not only had to buy the spectrum rights of a number of TV stations, but they also had to repack the remaining TV stations into a smaller TV band. Dates are coming up when the stations that were repacked will need to give the FCC notice as to their plans to construct, and also their expected expenses in constructing so that they can get reimbursement from the FCC for the costs that the incur. Yesterday, the FCC issued a Public Notice to remind stations that are being repacked as to some of the upcoming deadlines in this repacking process.
The FCC reminded stations (and MVPDs, who can also seek reimbursement for the costs that they incur as a result of the repacking) of the following post-auction filing deadlines:
- June 12, 2017: Reassigned TV stations (and stations changing bands as a result of their auction bids, e.g. those that are moving from UHF to VHF channels) that determine that they are unable to construct facilities that meet the technical parameters specified in the FCC’s April 13, 2017 Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice, as well as any other reassigned stations and band changing stations unable to meet the July 12, 2017 construction permit filing deadline (outlined in the next bullet), may seek a waiver of the July 12, 2017 deadline if they file a waiver request by June 12, 2017. Any station expecting to seek this waiver should contact its Regional Coordinator at the FCC (see our article here about the Regional Coordinators) as soon as possible.
- July 12, 2017: Unless they have been granted a waiver of this deadline, all reassigned stations and band changing stations must electronically file applications for construction permits to build their post-auction channel facilities no later than July 12, 2017. Although stations have until this deadline to make these filings, the Public Notice encourages stations to do so as soon as possible.
- July 12, 2017: Reassigned stations, as well as MVPDs that will incur costs by continuing to carry reassigned stations, must file their estimated construction costs for equipment and services no later than July 12, 2017. These relocation cost estimates and any required supporting documentation must be filed electronically with the FCC using FCC Form 2100, Schedule 399.
These are important steps in giving the FCC and other parties the information needed to see exactly what technical facilities stations will be using to meet their repacking obligations, which may give some suggestion as to whether the FCC’s ambitious repacking deadlines can be met. The cost estimates will also give some idea if the $1.75 billion budgeted for the repacking cost reimbursements will be sufficient to meet all of those costs. Thus, these upcoming dates are very important – make sure that your station meets its obligations.