FCC's Pai: $1.75B Won't Be Enough TV Repack Funding

Chairman says given initial TV station estimates, Congress will likely need to boost funding

FCC chairman Ajit Pai told the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday that while the initial $2.1 billion estimate from broadcasters for covering their moving costs could go up or down, the FCC does not think that the $1.75 billion Congress set-aside for the post-incentive auction repack will be sufficient. 

He said that while the estimates could go down or up, he thought it would wind up being more, and in order to hold broadcasters harmless in the move, Congress would need to provide more funds.

Pai was testifying at his re-nomination hearing Wednesday.

That came after Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) asked whether given that initial estimate there would be enough or there would be a shortfall. 

The estimates are what broadcasters have asked for. The FCC will vet those requests and decide according to a congressional mandate to cover reasonable repack-related expenses—what and how much to cover. There could also be some tweaks that reduce the potential moving costs some stations have initially submitted as well as additional asks from the stations and MVPDs yet to weigh in. 

Moran also asked whether the 39-month TV station repack timeline was sufficient. Pai said he did not yet know but would keep the committee informed.

“We appreciate Chairman Pai’s clear acknowledgement that the $1.75 billion TV repack fund will not cover the costs of nearly 1,000 broadcasters moving to a new channel," said National Association of Broadcasters EVP, communications, Dennis Wharton. "NAB will work with the FCC and Congress to ensure that funding is sufficient for all TV stations to be made whole for expenses incurred as a result of the repack.”