By: David Oxenford,
Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP
The Commission’s staff last week issued a Public Notice reminding broadcasters that the reimbursement program for those broadcasters displaced by the repacking of the television band after the incentive auction is coming to an end. The FCC reminded broadcasters eligible for reimbursement (including certain FM stations and LPTV licensees – see our article here ) that deadlines to submit invoices for reimbursement will start in six months. By those deadlines, all remaining invoices for reimbursement from the TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund must be submitted to qualify for reimbursement.
While different deadlines apply to different categories of broadcasters eligible for reimbursement, the Commission “strongly encouraged” all broadcasters to submit all remaining invoices and initiate close-out procedures as early as possible. The FCC notes in the Public Notice that payments up to the total amount of each entity’s allocation are available upon processing of documents reflecting reasonably incurred costs. However, the FCC will not be able to make a final allocation up to the full amount of costs incurred until all or virtually all invoices for incurred costs are submitted, or at such time as the FCC can reasonably extrapolate that the total amounts available in the Relocation Fund will be sufficient to meet all of the costs that have to be covered under that program.
The final invoice filing deadlines are:
- October 8, 2021 for Full power and Class A TV stations assigned transition completion dates in phases 1-5 of the Repack;
- March 22, 2022 for Full power and Class A TV stations assigned transition completion dates in phases 6-10 of the Repack; and,
- September 5, 2022 for Low Power TV and TV translator (LPTV/translator) stations, FM stations, and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) who were eligible for reimbursement.
Look for more details about the process in the FCC’s Public Notice as well as in a prior Public Notice about these deadlines that was released on October 7, 2020. These notices also remind broadcasters that submitting the invoices and receiving the reimbursement is not the end of the line – they must retain documents supporting the claimed expenses for a period ending 10 years after the date they receive their final payments from the Reimbursement Fund – just in case questions come up about the reimbursement claimed. So if you have not made claims for reimbursement for repacking expenses, now is the time to do so.
David Oxenford is MAB’s Washington Legal Counsel and provides members with answers to their legal questions with the MAB Legal Hotline. Access information here. (Members only access).
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