Last week in a hearing exploring FCC nominations, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) highlighted cost estimates indicating that broadcasters would need more than $2 billion in reimbursement for the repacking phase following up the recently completed spectrum auction. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai affirmed then, and again before a House panel this week, that the commission expects costs to exceed the relocation fund’s current statutory set-aside of $1.75 billion, so additional congressional action would be needed if broadcasters are to be fully covered.
Moran responded this week with a proposed legislative remedy. He and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) rallied several senators to join in the introduction of the Viewer and Listener Protection Act, which would provide for a new fund in the U.S. Treasury to aid TV and radio broadcasters affected by the repack if all former funds are exhausted. Moran described the need for “adequate resources and an appropriate timeline for the relocation of TV and radio stations” and Schatz focused on ensuring “uninterrupted service to viewers across the country.”
Related legislation was introduced last week by House Energy & Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). Among its provisions, Pallone’s Viewer Protection Act would create a $1 billion emergency fund for broadcasters, provide for a $90 million viewer education campaign for the repack, and allow displaced low power stations access to leftover money.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: July 28, 2017