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Editorial: Show Us the Money

The Federal Communications Commission has asked for comment on what TV station—and multichannel video programming distributor—expenses it will need to cover in repacking TV stations after the incentive auctions. It has set a Nov. 4 deadline for comments; that tells us a spectrum auction order won’t come until sometime after that.

The commission is asking whether the government can do some bulk buying given how much business it is sending the way of tower companies, antenna and transmitter manufacturers, consultants, engineers and lawyers.

We don’t know the answer to that one, but we do have a suggestion. However the FCC chooses to disburse the funds, make sure there are plenty of protections against fraud and waste. With $1.75 billion to spend, the relocation fund will attract a lot of interest from a lot of companies—with most of it on the up and up. But the fund will inevitably draw those who would take advantage of the process at the expense of taxpayers, and potentially broadcasters, if the money runs out before the need does.

This money needs to be able to cover all legitimate expenses. The FCC needs to make sure those are the only ones it is covering.