An FCC official assured broadcasters on Monday their costs related to repacking in the C-band will be taken care of. The agency plans to vote this Friday on a proposal to repack satellite companies that use the band to deliver live television and radio programming. Their former lower portion of the band would be auctioned for wireless use.
Incumbent satcos would move to the upper portion of the band.
“It’s important that the item makes clear that all reasonable relocation costs will be compensated. Those will be paid for by winning bidders,” said the Commission’s Chief of Staff Mathew Berry. He spoke at an NAB event in Washington, D.C. for state broadcast association personnel in town to lobby the Hill and the FCC.
Pai wants the C-band auction to begin this December, Inside Towers reported. “I would hope you could expect a smooth transition,” added Berry. He notes the record shows the proposed transition schedule “is realistic,” whether incumbent satcos move on the accelerated or baseline deadline.
Berry called the C-band issue “an enormously complex proceeding,” and thanked the NAB for “engaging in this proceeding in a cooperative, good faith manner.” The NAB, he said, “provided constructive feedback” to the agency concerning the proposal.
Berry provided an update on the current television spectrum repack. He said 778 full power stations have vacated their channels and 80 percent of those are on their permanent facilities for their new channels. He did have a request, that those stations that have made the move submit their expenses for reimbursement.
“It’s safe to say our invoice submissions are behind where we thought they’d be [by now].” Many stations are done but not that many have begun close-out procedures,” said Berry. He added that needs to be completed so the Commission “can reimburse people beyond the allocations.”
To prepare attendees for their lobbying efforts that begin today, NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith said: “You need that human face to tell broadcasting’s story. There’s a lot of industries in the past 100 years that have died out.” He called broadcasting a “legacy” industry that is a survivor.
Broadcasting must keep investing in the future, Smith emphasized, for TV that’s the next-gen transmission standard, and for radio, it’s podcasts, among other technologies. “In a world that no longer includes knobs, buttons and pre-sets, we simply have to be better than other technologies that crowd the dash space,” Smith said.
The NAB is on-track to move its headquarters closer to Capitol Hill in early April. “It plants a big stake in the ground in Washington, D.C. and says ‘we’re here to stay,’” Smith said to thundering applause.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief
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