Bill Boosting Auction Repack Funding Passes House

RAY BAUM Act was part of omnibus spending bill that must pass both Houses this week
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The House has passed the omnibus spending bill that includes more money for TV stations in the post-incentive auction repack, FCC reauthorization and reform, and much more.

The vote was 256 to 167. The bill still needs Senate approval and the President's signature, though both are expected.

“At the Energy and Commerce Committee, we pride ourselves on our ability to work across the aisle and explore every avenue to get our bills signed into law. This omnibus package is no different,” said Committee chairman Walden (R-Ore.). “I’d like to thank our members on both sides for their hard work on an array of policies..."

Related: Walden Says $3B Needed for Repack

Walden was among those supporting the added money for broadcasters including new money for LPTVs making the post-incentive auction move, and co-located radio stations that will be affected. Only full-power stations and some MVPDs have been eligible for the $1.75 billion, which Walden has conceded was an oversight that needed correcting. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) also pushed for more money for broadcasters, but with a focus on making sure viewers were not disenfranchised by the moves.

The new fund was part of the RAY BAUM Act, the rechristened FCC reauthorization bill.

The broadcaster shortfall funding in the omnibus bill breaks down this way, according to the National Association of Broadcasters: $600 million more will be available for the repack fund in FY 2018, with up to $350 million for full-power stations, up to $150 million for low-power TV stations and translators, up to $50 million for radio and $50 million for consumer education. There will be an added $400 million in for FY 2019."

“This FCC reform package – the most sweeping reauthorization in 28 years – reaffirms Congress’ commitment to telecommunications infrastructure, broadband expansion and 5G deployment,” said Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). “This omnibus provides certainty to broadcasters impacted by the incentive auction ‘repack,’ streamlines broadband expansion and economic competitiveness in rural America, equips the FCC and law enforcement to better protect consumers from fraud and makes certain the FCC continues to modernize its systems and improve its efficiency and transparency. I am pleased that several important provisions I introduced were included in this package and am encouraged by the bipartisan, bicameral effort that yielded this commonsense result.”

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