ACA Connects, which represents small to medium cable companies, recently asked the FCC to stay the August 31, C-band lump-sum election deadline. The group says earth station owners need adequate time to demonstrate – in court, if necessary – that the agency’s lump-sum determination is inconsistent with the C-band Order, and is arbitrary and capricious.
The FCC is in the process of clearing a broad swath of the C-band for future use by wireless 5G communications providers. A key component of the plan involves reimbursing incumbent users that are forced to vacate the cleared portion of the band. Those users may choose either to migrate their thousands of earth stations to continue to receive services on other portions of the C-band, or to receive a lump-sum payment that can be used toward converting to alternative technologies, such as fiber.
ACA Connects opposes the FCC’s finding that the lump-sum amount for multichannel video programming distributors would exclude the cost of Integrated Receiver/Decoders (IRDs). Omitting IRD costs results in the lump-sum payment becoming a lesser option, defeating the Commission’s prior decision to give individual earth station owners flexibility to decide whether it would be more efficient to continue using the C-band, or instead apply the same amount of money toward building a predominantly future-proof, fiber-based, video distribution network, says the group.
“Staying the election deadline now will give the FCC an opportunity to review and correct the determination and will also reduce the risk of future significant disruption that would occur if the lump-sum determination were later set aside on judicial review,” said ACA Connects President/CEO Matthew Polka.
ACA Connects explained the FCC’s process for determining the lump-sum amount was arbitrary and capricious and its members face irreparable harm if the August 31 deadline is not stayed. If the Commission does not stay the deadline (or overturn the determination before the deadline), MVPDs will be forced to make an election based on the existing lump-sum amount, contends the trade group.
ACA Connects asked the FCC to rule on its stay request by tomorrow, August 20. If the FCC declines to issue one, ACA Connects has requested that the agency issue a limited, 14-day delay of the lump-sum election deadline to allow ACA Connects time to seek a stay from the court of appeals.
In the meantime, the FCC seeks comment on the issues raised by ACA Connects’ request for stay. Those are due today, August 19, to GN Docket 18-122 and IB Docket 20-205.
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