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C-Band Alliance Outlines Compensation for Repack

The C-Band Alliance is proposing to cover the moving expenses of their satellite service customers, including broadcasters and cable operators, with 120% of the costs of repacking them onto new satellites and/or frequencies placed in an escrow account to insure there is enough.

That is if the FCC agrees to the alliance plan of striking deals in the market for the lower 200 MHz of the band's 500 MHz, leaving 300 MHz to accommodate current clients.

The alliance, which comprises fixed satellite service providers Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat and Telesat--says it will strike secondary market deals for the spectrum within three years of an FCC decision.

Broadcast and cable operators use the satellite spectrum to get networks from programmers to their cable systems and stations and they want to make sure that any repurposing or moving does not create interference and that if they do have to move, they are compensated for their trouble.

Related: Charter Says C-Band Alliance Proposal Equals Backroom Deals

According to a filing with the FCC Wednesday (April 3), the alliance has come up with a schedule of "transition-related expenses that satellite operators will either pay directly on behalf of their customers and the antenna operators, or for which they will reimburse their customers or the antenna operators."

The money will cover moving cable operators and broadcasters to higher frequencies--for the latter sort of like the broadcast incentive auction--or to change satellites from the one they currently get their content feeds, which means they will have to re-tune their receiver antennas.

Related: ACA Says It Should Get Cut of C-Band Deal

If new antennas are needed, they will be provided by the satellite operator.

The extra 20% in escrow could help avoid the FCC's issues with the post-broadcast incentive auction repack, which ran short of repack money and had to go back to Congress.

The FCC voted unanimously back in July to find ways to open up the C-band spectrum (3.7-4.2 GHz)--either all of the proposed 500 MHz or some portion of it--for terrestrial wireless use.

Those ways could include an incentive or capacity auction, a market mechanism where incumbents voluntarily strike deals to reduce their footprint, or some other means.

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.