NAB Executives Get Personal With FCC on Repack Issue

Meet with Pai to share concerns

A tag team of National Association of Broadcasters president Gordon Smith and general counsel Rick Kaplan met with FCC chairman Ajit Pai April 4 to talk about the repack of TV stations after the incentive auction.

The FCC is expected in the next week or so to release the public notice on the new channels some stations must move to, though it has already given that info to the stations so they can start planning. When that notice is issued, stations will have 39 months to make the post-auction move.

NAB expressed its concerns, and it has quite a few, with how the repack is being structured. It has already filed a petition with the FCC asking it to reconsider parts of its repack framework, saying it was flawed and that the timeline for repacking TV stations after the incentive auction will hurt broadcasters and their viewers. 

In the meeting this week, Smith and Kaplan reiterated some of those issues. "NAB remains concerned that under the commission’s existing rule, which remains the subject of a pending petition for reconsideration, broadcasters are required to cease operation on their pre-auction channels after 39 months, without exception," they said, according to an ex parte filing on the meeting. "Further, under the existing scheduling plan, the Media Bureau 'does not intend to grant requests [to waive deadlines] that would disrupt the transition.'"

They said the framework could mean viewers losing service despite the "best efforts" of broadcasters, vendors and FCC staffers, who NAB praised for their best efforts so far. They also put in a plug for FM radio stations not being repacked.

NAB is concerned that the FCC has not taken into account the cost and logistics of the impact of the TV station moves on associated radio stations sharing towers. 

"These stations and their listeners are threatened with potential service disruptions despite the fact that they have nothing whatsoever to do with the auction."