FCC hears from APTS, CPB, PBS on spectrum repacking expenses

By Dru Sefton

The Association of Public Television Stations, CPB and PBS on Monday filed comments with the FCC regarding issues related to the spectrum repacking that will follow incentive auctions clearing bandwidth for mobile devices.

Responding to the commission’s request for comment on the process for assisting stations with the costs of spectrum repacking, the three organizations “strongly encourage the Commission to adopt reimbursement policies and procedures that ensure noncommercial educational television stations are made whole and held fully harmless in the repacking,” they said in the filing (complete document here). Broadcasters are concerned that costs of the transition may exceed the $1.75 billion Congress has set aside to reimburse them.

The FCC requested comments in September on its Catalog of Eligible Expenses for spectrum repacking. The three pubcasting organizations said it’s too early to anticipate all of the costs that broadcasters will take on during the repacking. They recommended that the FCC develop a process for stations to request reimbursement for costs not detailed in the catalog.

The pubcasters recommended formation of an advisory board of television broadcasters “to leverage the industry’s expertise and knowledge of the challenges that are likely to arise throughout the repacking process.”

They also encouraged commissioners to provide television stations flexibility “to make purchasing decisions based on their experienced judgment, unique station operations and needs, and regional differences,” instead of mandating, say, bulk purchasing, competitive bidding or equipment repurposing.

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