The FCC yesterday released a Public Notice indicating that they will be inspecting approximately 60 of the over 900 TV stations changing channels as a result of the incentive auction and the repacking of the TV spectrum that took place after that auction. The FCC notice says that it is hiring contract employees who will conduct these inspections on a randomly selected set of stations to assess the equipment that they have on hand and will be replacing when moving to their new channel. The stations are seeking reimbursement from the FCC’s $1.75 billion pool of money set aside to reimburse stations for equipment that needs to be replaced to allow the stations to operate on their new channels.
The notice says that the FCC will be assessing the “existence and functionality” of the equipment for which reimbursement is sought. The FCC seems to be saying that it will be making sure that stations really have the equipment that they are seeking to replace through reimbursement funds. The “functionality” aspect may be an assessment as to whether that equipment really needs to be replaced, though the notice does not specifically make that statement. The approximately 60 stations selected at random will be used as a statistical sample to assess the reliability of repacking estimates provided by stations to the FCC. Nothing forecloses the FCC from conducting further audits in the future. So if you have a TV station that has been repacked, and the FCC comes knocking, you will know what the inspection is all about.