Noncoms Ask FCC to Expand Repack Reimbursement Catalog

Noncommercial broadcasters want the FCC to expand its catalog of reimbursable expenses in the post-spectrum auction repack given the special challenges of noncoms in the move of channels.

In comments to the FCC, PBS, CPB and America's Public Television Stations said they realized that the FCC's catalog of potential expenses was a guide rather than a definitive list but suggested the guide could use some additions given the FCC's proposal for a phased-in transition. 

The noncommercial broadcasters pointed out that the FCC's report on the repack recognizes that noncoms face specific issues related to governance and funding that commercial broadcasters do not and that they "may not have the in-house capabilities to manage the equipment procurement process, RFP creation, legal agreements, state procurement processes, and engineering."

They said the FCC "should recognize that public broadcasters need to rely on (and be reimbursed for) appropriate outside vendor resources by adding line items to the revised Catalog for several critical transition planning and implementation tasks."

Those line items are "Engineering and Legal Costs for Initial Consultations and Advice for Stations Transitioning to New Channels"; "Engineering and Legal Costs for Preparing and Filing the Initial Cost Estimates"; "Engineering and Legal Costs of Modifications of Construction Permits"; and "Non-TV Station Tenants on Towers Affected by Channel Transition."

The noncoms also pointed out that the FCC did not include in the catalog their suggestions from 2014 of "costs that may be required for new backup generators and equipment, increased post-repacking operating costs, the cost of tower elevators for tall towers, and the potential cost of acquiring or leasing new land for a tower."

Those, too, should be added they said.

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.