The broadcast television repack is almost complete. All of the 987 full power and Class A stations have left their pre-auction channels. As of January 4, more than 95 percent of the stations are operating on their final facilities, according to the FCC.
Forty-one remaining stations have been granted Special Temporary Authority and revised construction permit deadlines so they can continue their final tower work. “We are optimistic that these remaining stations will be able to meet their revised deadlines, and we will continue to monitor and work with them to ensure the continued success of the post-incentive auction transition,” said the Media and Auction Bureaus in an update Thursday.
Congress provided $2.75 billion to reimburse certain costs associated with the channel repack and for FCC television viewer education. To date, participants in the reimbursement fund include 873 Low-Power TV (LPTV) and TV Translators, 89 FMs, and 181 Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs) in addition to 957 repacked full power and Class A stations.
To date, full power, Class A, and FMs and MVPDs have received allocations of 92.5 percent of each entity’s verified estimates, while LPTV/Translators have received allocations of 85 percent of each entity’s verified estimates, according to the bureaus.
As of January 4, the total of all verified estimates in the reimbursement fund was $2.19 billion. The total allocation was $2 billion, and $1.4 billion had been forwarded to the Treasury Department for payment. Over $55 million in invoices were at various stages of the review process. The program has received 93,000 invoices in more than 31,000 separate submissions. The agency expects that reimbursement requests will continue to increase over the life of the fund.
The Commission established staggered invoice filing deadlines to balance the burden on entities that have ongoing construction work against the need to meet the payment deadline. The deadline requires that entities submit all documentation reflecting incurred costs to the Commission in a timely manner so the fund administrator and Commission staff have sufficient time to fully process all reimbursement requests and complete close out procedures prior to the July 3, 2023, deadline set by Congress. That’s when unobligated funds must be rescinded.
Repacked stations with phase completion dates in the first half of the Transition Scheduling Plan through phase 5 must submit all invoices for incurred expenses by October 8, 2021; those assigned completion dates in the second half of the Transition Scheduling Plan must submit by March 22, 2022; and LPTV/Translator, FM stations, and MVPDs must submit by September 5, 2022.
The FCC has made an additional allocation for LPTV/Translators because that number keeps going up. There are currently 873 such eligible stations. Submitted cost estimates for LPTV/Translator stations as of January 4 totaled $135,385,485, verified estimates totaled $99,435,584, and the allocation to LPTV/Translator stations totaled $85,653,673.
The FCC decided that “under the current circumstances and considering the $150 million available to LPTV/Translator stations, sound federal fund administration principles allow us to increase the allocation to this category of stations from 85 percent to 92.5 percent of verified estimates.” This will result in a total allocation for LPTV/Translator stations of $91,782,921 and a total allocation from the reimbursement fund for all eligible entities of over $2.028 billion.