NAB Asks FCC to Open Its Repack Wallet Wider

Says initial $1 billion cap should be lifted

Executives from the National Association of Broadcasters met with FCC staffers this week to ask it to make as much of the $1.75 billion post-incentive auction repack funding available to broadcasters as quickly as possible.

The FCC will soon start authorizing payments for the expenses broadcasters have been submitting.

In an April 13 public notice on the repack, the Incentive Auction Task Force said that after its review of initial cost estimates submitted by broadcasters, it would cap initial allocations at $1 billion, with $750 million held back.

Related: NAB Refutes ‘Ghosts’ Claims About Next Gen Tuner Mandate

NAB said that there is no reason to withhold that much, and that a $175 million reserve should suffice.

The broadcasters pointed to three things that have changed since that April public notice: 1) Vendors have expressed concern that stations' uncertainty about reimbursement has forced some of them to delay firm orders for needed equipment; 2) that the $1 billion cap dates from before the FCC had the full $1.75 billion available, and 3) that the FCC now knows that estimated costs are going to exceed, NAB said "greatly exceed," $1 billion.

"We urge the Commission to stick to its original plan and make initial allocations as close as possible to 80 percent for commercial stations and 90 percent for non-commercial stations as soon as possible," the execs told the FCC. "We believe that withholding $175 million, 10 percent of the available funding, is adequate to guard against the possibility of over-allocation while also reducing the possibility that a lack of funding becomes a source of otherwise avoidable delays."