TV Station Reimbursement Deadline Looms

FCC Building
(Image credit: FCC)

Attention broadcasters in phases 6 through 10 of the FCC's post broadcast incentive auction repack, a big deadline is coming up.

The FCC's Media Bureau and Incentive Auction Task Force is reminding all full power and Class A Low-power TV stations that they have to submit all their outstanding reimbursement invoices no later than March 22.

Congress gave the FCC $1.75 billion to cover the "reasonably incurred" moving costs of those TV stations relocating to new spectrum after broadcast incentive auction, which closed on April 13, 2017, repurposing 84 MHz of TV spectrum for wireless and raising nearly $20 billion.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic apparently notwithstanding, the FCC said broadcasters should be able to make that deadline, but that if there are circumstances beyond their control it would consider a "limited extension," by which it meant that it would shift them to the absolutely final, phase 10, invoice-filing deadline of September 6, 2022.

That is currently the deadline for MVPDs to file for reimbursement, as well as all other LPTV stations and FM stations, which Congress eventually added to its list of reimbursable entities.

But the FCC is suggesting that phase waiting until that Sept. 6 deadline could be dicey for full-powers and class A's since the FCC said it would not grant extensions that do not give the staff enough time to process them and complete the close-out procedures for all stations.

So, even if the station does get a waiver, it could potentially not get a full reimbursement because the FCC has to return any unobligated funds to the treasury by a date certain. ■

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.