Many broadcasters who receive satellite-delivered programming do so through satellite dishes picking up transmissions from spectrum referred to as the C-band. Part of that spectrum is to be auctioned to wireless users for 5G service starting in December. Because of that auction, those using the band to receive satellite-delivered programs will be compressed into a smaller swath of spectrum which will require the reconfiguration of their technical facilities. Those broadcasters who timely registered their dishes are entitled to reimbursement for the costs of the changes in their technical facilities necessitated by this repacking – but they have a choice to make by September 14 as to how to receive that reimbursement. That choice was explained in a helpful webinar hosted by the NAB which can be ordered on the NAB website here.
As explained in far more detail in the webinar, those affected by the shrinking of the C-band can choose a traditional method of reimbursement, where the satellite carrier will take care of most of the transition costs (for which it will receive reimbursement) and the broadcaster would be able to file with the FCC and be reimbursed for certain costs set forth in the FCC’s Cost Catalog. However, the FCC has offered an alternative reimbursement methodology, where the broadcaster gets a lump-sum payment and it is then responsible for the purchase and installation of all required equipment, repositioning, and other changes that are necessary to communicate in the upper portion of the C-band. For some broadcasters planning to adopt alternate delivery methods for their programming, such as by fiber or Internet, that lump sum payment may be an attractive alternative. For others, a careful analysis of the costs of buying and installing new equipment on their own needs to be weighed against what might be the simpler and more cost-effective option of allowing the satellite company to quarterback the technical changes.
If a broadcaster wants to accept the lump-sum payment, that election needs to be made by September 14. Carefully review the FCC notices on this election (here and here), listen to the webinar, and consult your legal and engineering advisors for full details on the information required for the election and to assess which option best suits your needs.