Sinclair Equates FCC Repack Deadlines With 'Death Penalty'

Sinclair Broadcast Group has told the FCC that its post-auction repack construction deadlines work against the interests of a smooth transition and the broadcasters being required to make those moves, pitting broadcasters against one another for equipment.

"[T]he repacking plan expressly relies on cooperation among broadcasters, but creates an enormous disincentive for any broadcaster to make significant concessions for the greater good," the company said in comments on the FCC's tentative repack framework, which will set phased deadlines and a 39-month end point. 

"In fact, it creates the opposite incentive by threatening a 'death penalty' for stations that do not meet their transition deadlines," Sinclair said. "This all but guarantees an 'every man for himself' mentality among broadcasters when procuring repacking equipment and services."

Sinclair will almost certainly be providing some of those services through its Dielectric subsidiary"

The broadcaster said that under threat of being forced off the air, broadcasters can be expected to further their own self-interest.

And the FCC should not be able to punish broadcasters for "following a plan the FCC dictates, [a] plan the FCC concedes relies on factors beyond anyone’s control and which, quite obviously, undermines incentives for stations to make cooperative concessions."

Sinclair also opined that the FCC's repack framework public notice had not yet addressed "inevitable" failures to meet its timeline, saying that was "apparently to perpetuate the fiction that all stations can be repacked within 39 months."

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.