In a flurry of actions in the last week, the FCC has acted to assist LPTV stations and TV translators displaced by the TV incentive auction. It also adopted rules to assist FM stations (including FM translators and Low Power FM stations) that were adversely affected by tower work caused by the incentive auction on the towers they share with TV stations. At the FCC meeting last week, the FCC issued its Report and Order agreeing to reimburse LPTV and TV translator stations for the expenses that they incur in changing channels to accommodate the shrinking of the TV band and the repacking of primary TV stations, as long as those expenses were not reimbursed by other parties (certain wireless carriers have reportedly reimbursed some of these stations for moving quickly to vacate their old channels). FM stations will also be reimbursed for their expenses incurred by tower work by TV stations involved in the repacking that displaced the FM station’s operations. The FCC did not adopt proposals for only partial reimbursement of expenses dependent on the length of displacement (see our article here for more on what those proposals were) – good news for FMs affected by these changes.
The FCC subsequently released a catalog of the types of expenses that would be reimbursed, with estimates for the expected range of those expenses. While displaced stations can seek reimbursement for other expenses that were incurred as a direct result of the incentive auction (excluding any reimbursement for lost sales or employee time), and for expenses that proved to be greater than the FCC’s expectations, the station seeking such reimbursement will need to prove that the expenditures were reasonable and justified. As noted in the Public Notice accompanying the catalog of reimbursable expenses, the FCC will be, at a later date, announcing when eligible stations can start filing for reimbursement. So if you are expecting reimbursement, watch for that notice.
Finally, the FCC this week lifted a filing freeze and announced that LPTV stations and TV translators – even those not affected by the incentive auction and repacking – can now file displacement applications and digital companion channel applications. Such applications were frozen to allow stations affected by the repacking a stable database of channels to which they could move. The lifting of the freeze will be effective April 18, so get your applications ready if you need a change, as these applications are processed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Plenty of actions for LPTV stations and TV translators to digest – and some for FM stations too.