Yes, the FCC has already voted to approve the framework for handing out $200 million in telehealth funding to cope with the coronavirus and has even handed out two tranches of that money already, the second announced Tuesday (April 21).
The green light it has now given is to applications for entities with outstanding debts to the commission. Usually, such applications can be withheld per the FCC's "red light" rule until the debt has been repaid or otherwise resolved.
But the FCC's Office of Managing Director and Wireline Competition Bureau agree that the pandemic constitutes the sort of "extremely unusual circumstances" that is good cause for using the FCC's discretion.
They said they did not expect there to be a flood of delinquent applicants for the money but wanted to make sure that worthy applicants aren't penalized for that debt during a health crisis. The waiver only applies to the telehealth program.
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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.