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Hurricane-Hit Stations Get Repack Reprieve

FCC chairman Ajit Pai says that the FCC will allow 20 TV stations affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria to build their post-incentive auction facilitates on an accelerated schedule.

Most of a thousand stations are repacking into new channels per a predetermined and complicated schedule, but the FCC has decided to let those 20 move more quickly to those new channels than had been the plan. The stations had asked for the change and it was granted by the Incentive Auction Task Force and Media Bureau.

Related: Pai Says More USF Money Needed to Help Puerto Rican Communications

FCC chairman called that change a creative solution.

“Before today, many broadcast television stations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands were facing a choice between two bad options," he said in a statement, "either remain dark for months or years to come, or restore service on their pre-auction channel, only to have to rebuild their broadcast facility again in a year or two.  Now, stations are no longer confronting that choice because they’ll be able to use their post-auction channel more quickly.  Moreover, affected stations will now be able to access the TV Broadcaster Reimbursement Fund to cover portions of their recovery costs attributable to the post-incentive auction channel reassignment."

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.