ACA: MVPDs Should Get Priority Access to Repack Funds

The American Cable Association says MPVDs and full power and Class A TV stations should get priority access to $400 million in 2019 incentive auction relocation funds before FM radio stations or low powers and translators get a share.

The latter were initially not included in the fund, set up to compensate broadcasters and MVPDs for costs of the post-incentive auction repack, but Congress earlier this year made them part of the fund, directing funds for 2018 specifically to FMS ($50 million) and low powers and translators ($150 million), but was less clear about the 2019 funds.

In proposing a framework for allocating that money, the FCC noted the lack of specificity about the 2019 funds and asked whether it should prioritize MVPDs et al. before FMs and low powers. ACA says definitely.

ACA told the FCC in comments this week that it is certainly feasible that MVPDS, full powers and class A's may need all $400 million, and if that is the case, they should get it.

"It would be unfair, therefore, to permit others - including LPTV, TV translator, and FM stations -- to access the funds appropriated for 2019 until all entities for whom the reimbursement fund was originally created are fully satisfied," ACA said.

ACA pointed out that while only 136 MVPDs have so far filed for reimbursement--many have to adjust their headends to receive stations being moved in the repack--"hundreds more" are expected to file for reimbursement over the next two years.

Congress has consistently prioritized reimbursement of MVPDs and full power and Class A stations over all others," ACA president and CEO Matthew M. Polka said of the filing.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.