FCC Opens Rulemaking to Get Repack Funding for Radio

According to a report in Inside Radio, the upcoming spectrum repack could cost the radio industry millions of dollars in expenses. To address the issue, the FCC proposed a set of rules that would determine how the repack funds set aside by Congress to offset the costs will be spent.

It is estimated that approximately 500 full-power FMs will be disrupted by the repack, either by being forced to power down in order to accommodate engineers working on a television station’s antenna, or by moving to a backup facility, if available. In some cases, an FM could be permanently displaced from a TV tower according to engineers, although the FCC says the number is likely to be very small.

The proposed rules would provide up to 100% of funding for stations that must relocate because of a repack. The same offer would go to FMs that are permanently or temporarily required to modify their facilities because of the process. The Commission proposes to use what is described as a “graduated, prioritized system” to cover the costs that stations would face when purchasing or modifying auxiliary sites as radio confronts disruption from the upcoming TV repack.

The proposal suggests how much money an FM or FM translator gets would depend on how much disruption the station faces. The FCC has proposed stations off the air for between 24 hours and 10 days would receive up to 50% reimbursement of their eligible costs to construct new backup facilities or upgrade an existing one so at least 80% of the service area is covered. For stations that would be off the air for more than 30 days, the FCC proposed 100% of their costs be covered.

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