The Federal Communications Commission is allocating an additional $742 million in funds for broadcasters and MVPDs eligible for reimbursement as the incentive auction channel repack progresses.
The FCC said that with the new allocation, eligible broadcasters and MVPDs have access to $1.74 billion or 92.5% of the currently verified cost estimates. But the agency stressed that all verified invoices are being paid in full.
The new allocation comes after the FCC’s initial allocation on Oct. 16, 2017, at which time $1 billion was made available. At that time, the FCC acknowledged that the total $1.75 billion available was less than the total amount of verified cost estimates submitted.
By March 7, 2018, the total amount of verified cost estimates had risen to $1.95 billion.
With the recent passage of the RAY BAUM Act, the amount of reimbursement funds available to broadcasters and MVPDs totals $2.5 billion. The bill offers additional funds for full-power TV stations, translators and low-power stations that are relocating—for co-located radio stations—and a consumer education fund for building awareness of the subsequent channel changes.
Several interested parties cheered House passage of the bill in March.
“NAB applauds today’s passage of RAY BAUM’S Act by the U.S. House of Representatives. Chairman Walden and Ranking Member Pallone deserve enormous credit for their leadership in crafting bipartisan, unanimous legislation that ensures local broadcasters are fairly reimbursed for expenses related to the spectrum 'repack.' NAB will continue to work with them, along with their colleagues in the Senate, to ensure this legislation’s passage into law along with full funding for the repack in the final omnibus spending bill,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith in a statement.
“I applaud the House for its overwhelming bipartisan support of RAY BAUM’S Act. There is a lot to like in this bill, including removing a barrier to holding spectrum auctions, ensuring a timely repacking process so that incentive auction spectrum can be put to use by winning bidders, and updating mobile coverage data—while also reauthorizing the FCC and containing key provisions from the MOBILE NOW Act. I thank the House for passing the bipartisan RAY BAUM’S Act and urge swift passage by the Senate,” said CCA President and CEO Steven Berry in a statement.