FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly said the National Association of Broadcasters was right to raise issues about the cost of the post-incentive auction repack and timetable, but says he does not think those will be addressed until after the auction.
In a speech to NAB's State Leadership Conference in Washington, O'Rielly said, "In my opinion, these concerns are unlikely to be considered and addressed until the Commission and Congress can examine the lay of the land post auction."
He said he had his own concerns and had asked for data on the number of tower crews that will be available for the repack, but so far has had no luck in getting it.
NAB, which thinks the FCC's 39 month time line for the transition is likely too short, and T-Mobile, which says it is doable, have offered up different takes on the availability of those tower crews.
"Such information, which I have been unable to obtain, along with the exact number of stations to be moved, will be necessary to determine an accurate timeline," O'Rielly said.
NAB has argued that the FCC shouldn't have provided that hard 39-month deadline without knowing how many stations will have to move, which won't be knowable until after the auction is completed.
O'Rielly said he would support Congress allocating additional funding beyond the current $1.75 billion already allocated to pay for transition costs, but only "if absolutely necessary."
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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.