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FCC to Give LPTVs 85% of Repack Reimbursement Up Front

The FCC's Incentive Auction Task Force and Media Bureau have determined the amount of relocation funds they will give to qualified low-power TV stations and translators impacted by the broadcast incentive auction repack and said they will get 85% of that money out ASAP.  

Based on the review of those qualified stations' estimates for the costs of the post-incentive auction repack--$143,633,411--the verified reimbursement amount for eligible stations was a bit over two-thirds of that ask at $102,437,198, of which the FCC is getting 85% ($87,071,619) out ASAP. 

Related: LPTVs Get More Time to File for Repack Expenses

The FCC will provide more funds, but wanted to get a hefty percentage of the requested funds allocated promptly, as it did with full power stations and MVPDs, though with full powers the initial percentage of verified expenses was 52% (62% for noncommercial Stations). It said that 85% was needed upfront for LPTVS and translators "so that LPTV/Translator stations can begin to be reimbursed for their expenses, which in some cases have already been incurred." 

The FCC will can adjust the funding if stations provide more documentation of expenses or the ineligible stations become eligible with sufficient justification, or currently anticipated costs could rise.  

Related: FCC Says TV Repack is on Track

"We believe it is important to make an initial allocation promptly and without waiting for greater visibility into any future changes so that LPTV/Translator stations can begin to be reimbursed for their expenses, which in some cases have already been incurred," the FCC said. "However, the existence of these upward pressures and consideration of the total $150 million designated for LPTV/Translator means that we also need to take appropriate measures to avoid the need for future allocation reductions and claw-backs and assure that we allocate funds fairly and consistently across all eligible LPTV/Translator stations."

LPTVs were not initially included in the repack compensation fund, but Congress subsequently added them to the tune of $150 million. 

The FCC has determined that 844 of the 947 submissions for reimbursement are eligible for the reimbursement program. 

Based on the review of the submitted cost estimates by the fund administrator, backstopped by the Media Bureau, the FCC arrived at the $102,437,198 figure, and will let stations know how and why their request was adjusted, if that was the case.  

"The Coalition really appreciates the FCC through this health crisis getting the allocations done in a timely manner," said Mike Gravino, head of the LPTV Specrum Rights Coalition, which pushed hard for the repack dollars.

"There seem to be inconsistencies around the country from regional reviewer to regional reviewer in what has been accepted, reduced, or not allowed. We assume these will be worked out in the next phase of the process. The FCC is still determining eligibilty for small but siginificant number of applicants which is another reason for the 84% allocation. Many LPTV operators have not filed their banking forms which will significantly slow down the process for them since the forms need a formal notary publics. The process moves on and operators can expect funding soon."

John Eggerton
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.