1. If I operate a radio station, or a television station that is not being repacked, will repacking still affect me?
It depends where your station is located and which television stations are being repacked in your vicinity. Radio or television stations on or near towers with repacked television stations may be affected by repacking as workers will need to access towers to perform work associated with moving repacked stations to new channels.
2. Am I eligible for reimbursement of expenses associated with repacking?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has determined that only repacked television stations are eligible for reimbursement. However, the FCC also noted that in some cases a TV station may be contractually obligated to reimburse other broadcast stations on its tower for costs incurred due to changes made by the TV station. If a repacked television station had such a contractual obligation as of June 2, 2014 it may be eligible for reimbursement for these costs.
3. How do I apply for reimbursement?
Television stations that are involuntarily assigned to new TV channels apply for reimbursement by completing FCC Form 2100, Schedule 399. The form is expected to be available through the FCC's Licensing and Management System (LMS ). You will need your FCC Registration Number (FRN) and password to access LMS and Schedule 399.
Stations must provide bank account information – where reimbursement payments will be sent – in the FCC's Commission Registration System (CORES ) to receive reimbursement.
4. When do I apply for reimbursement?
You can apply for reimbursement as soon as you have cost estimates for eligible expenses. Stations will receive an initial allocation of funds based on estimated costs, and stations can draw from that allocation as actual expenses are incurred. You can file for reimbursement each time costs are incurred or wait and "bundle" multiple expenses over some period, such as one month. The Schedule 399 reimbursement system is designed to accept three types of submissions: estimated costs, actual costs with documentation and final accounting or cost allocation adjustments.
5. What kinds of expenses are reimbursable?
Expenses that are "reasonably incurred" in relocating to new channels are eligible for reimbursement. Such expenses would include transmitters, antennas (including temporary ones), transmission lines, towers, installation, rigging and professional service fees. The FCC has released a catalog of typical items and services that the FCC expects to reimburse, but the FCC states this catalog is not exhaustive.
6. When will I receive reimbursement?
While the FCC has not committed to making reimbursements within a specific timeframe, it has stated that it will start reimbursing stations prior to the end of the three-month period for the submission of cost estimates after the auction officially closes. During that three-month period, the FCC may hold reimbursement requests for some time in order to prioritize reimbursement and/or to ensure that sufficient funds are available. The FCC plans up-front reimbursement for most stations' of 80 percent of their estimated costs, subject to fund availability constraints. Remaining costs will be reimbursed following a true-up of actual expense outlays.
7. What if the FCC runs out of money?
The $1.75 billion reimbursement fund may not be sufficient to cover fully the costs of all stations that are involuntarily reassigned to new channels. The FCC has not yet explained what it will do in the event this fund is insufficient. The size of the reimbursement fund was set by Congress in 2012, and only Congress can make additional funds available.
8. How are reimbursements treated for tax purposes?
The IRS has provided guidance on tax treatment of winning auction bids as well as repacking reimbursement. You should consult a tax professional for advice on the proper treatment for tax purposes.
9. Can I change transmitter site?
Possibly if the move does not create new interference to any other station and does not delay or disrupt the transition schedule. Applications to change transmitter site generally cannot be filed during the initial 90-day period for the submission of construction permit applications unless the move does not significantly alter the station's coverage contour. Such applications may be filed during first priority filing window, a 30-day window which should open after the initial 90-day period if the move is necessary because of an inability to construct at the old site or because of excessive coverage losses (over one percent) on the new channel compared with the old one. If the move is voluntary, the application cannot be filed until the second filing window, a 30-day period opening after the first window closes. In either case, the application must protect all earlier-filed applications. If the proposed move could impact other stations, it may be prudent to seek a letter of concurrence from the other stations. Stations in the Canadian or Mexican border regions will require coordination approval from the country in question.
10. Can I increase power from what is specified in the Reassignment Public Notice (PN)?
Possibly, if the power increase does not create new interference to any other station and does not delay or disrupt the transition schedule. Applications to increase power that do not extend a station's coverage contour by more than one percent in any direction may generally be filed during the initial 90-day window. Applications that result in greater contour extension must be filed during first or second priority filing windows, depending upon whether the increase is necessary to restore coverage.
11. Can I use a different channel from what is specified in the Reassignment PN?
Possibly, but proposals to change channel are considered "major changes," subject to local public notice and a 30-day period for filing of petitions to deny. Applications for alternative channels can be filed during either the first or second priority filing windows, depending upon whether the channel change is needed to restore coverage.
12. Can I add vertical polarization for better mobile reception?
Yes, but any additional costs beyond those associated with maintaining your station's existing antenna polarization are not reimbursable.
13. When must I file for a construction permit (CP) for my new channel?
After the close of the auction, the FCC will release a public notice with new channel and technical information for all repacked stations. Any station reassigned to a new channel will have 90 days from release of that public notice to file a CP application for facilities to operate on its post-auction channel. The CP application, FCC Form 2100 Schedule A (full power stations) or Schedule E (Class A stations), must be filed electronically using the Commission's LMS system. Applications must propose facilities or modified facilities consistent with the technical parameters set forth in Closing and Reassignment PN. The applications will be considered minor change applications.
14. Is there a filing fee for my CP application?
No. The CP application will be considered a minor change application and exempt from filing fees. A station that files an incomplete or defective application will be afforded one amendment opportunity via LMS to cure any defects. Failure to correct will result in dismissal of the application. Applications from stations "unable to construct" their allotted facility or displaced class A stations that are dismissed must file a new application within 15 days of dismissal and pay the requisite filing fee. All other dismissed applications may not be re-filed until the Mass Media Bureau lifts the 2013 freeze on the filing of minor change applications.
15. Can I get more time to file for a CP for my new channel?
Possibly. Stations unable to construct facilities that meet the technical parameters specified in the Closing and Reassignment Public Notice, or are unable to file the CP application within the initial 90-day CP filing period, may seek a waiver of the deadline. Waiver requests must be filed as requests for special temporary authority via LMS with an electronic copy of the request should also be sent to IATransitionlicensing@fcc.gov . Stations unable to construct must file a waiver request 30 days before the end of the 90-day filing period. Other waiver requests may be filed any time prior to the applicable deadline and show "good cause" for requiring additional time. However, the FCC has indicated it did not anticipate granting waivers of the deadline other than to those in the "unable to construct category." The example given by the FCC is a station unable to construct a conforming facility on its current tower and a replacement tower cannot be constructed that would meet the specified technical parameters. A station given a waiver of the 90-day CP filing deadline will still be required to meet its construction deadline.
16. When must I complete construction of my new facility on the new channel? When must I terminate operation on my existing channel?
Each station assigned a new channel will be assigned to one of ten transition phases and given a phase completion date. The phase completion date will be listed in each station's CP as its construction deadline and is the last day that the station may operate on its pre-auction channel absent the grant of special temporary authority (STA). STAs will be granted only in "very limited circumstances" and will not extend beyond the end of the 39-month transition period.
17. Is there a filing fee for my License?
Yes. Within 10 days after commencement of program test authority, a licensee must submit an application for license on its post-auction channel via LMS using FCC Form 2100 Schedule B (full power) or Schedule F (Class A) and pay the requisite filing fee. The filing fee may be a reimbursable expense.
18. Can I get more time to complete construction of my new facility?
Perhaps. As noted above, each station assigned a new channel will be assigned to one of 10 transition phases and given a phase completion date. The phase completion date will be listed in each station's CP as its construction deadline and is the last day that the station may operate on its pre-auction channel absent the grant of an STA. STAs will be granted only in "very limited circumstances" and will not extend beyond the end of the transition period.
Stations unable to complete construction of their post-auction facilities by their deadline may seek a single extension of up to 180 days. Extension requests are filed electronically via LMS on FCC Form 2100-Schedule 337 and must be filed at least 90 days before their deadline or phase completion date. The request must include an exhibit showing reasons for requiring an extension were either unforeseen or beyond the station's control, such as delays caused by weather, unavailability of equipment or tower crews, tower lease disputes, unusual technical problems, delays due to government or zoning approval.
Additional time to construct beyond the 180-day extension may only be requested under the FCC's "tolling rule." All extension applications will be evaluated to determine whether the grant will delay or disrupt the post-auction transition schedule. A grant of extension of time to construct will not extend the time during which the licensee may operate on its pre-auction channel and absent an STA the station must cease operating even if the post-auction facility is not complete.
19. I can't finish construction by the date specified on my CP and can't get an extension. Do I have to go dark?
You may be limited to operating on your new channel or a temporary channel. To minimize the time a station is off the air, a station may request an STA to operate with temporary facilities while it completes construction of its post-action facilities. Requests for STAs must be filed electronically via LMS and filing fees apply. All STAs will be limited to a maximum of 180 days and subject to modification or cancellation without notice at any time at the FCC's Media Bureau's sole discretion. All STAs must not cause impermissible interference to other broadcast and wireless licensees and no STA will be granted that would authorize a station to operate on its pre-auction channel beyond the end of the 39-month transition period.
If no channel is available and/or an STA is not granted, the station must go dark and request silent authority. Stations that remain silent for more than ten days must file a Suspension of Operations Notification via LMS no later than the tenth day of their suspended operations. Stations that remain silent for more than 30 days must file an STA to go silent and pay the requisite fee.
20. How do I ensure that multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) will carry my new channel?
You must provide adequate notice to MVPDs. A station must provide notice to MVPDs that currently carry the station 30 days before terminating operation on its pre-auction channel and commencing operation on its post-auction channel. The required notice must be in the form of a letter that includes the date and time of any channel change; the station's pre- and post-auction channels; modification, if any, to the antenna position, location or power levels and the contact information for the station's engineering staff.
21. Can I keep my old channel brand?
Yes. Just as in the digital TV transition, a station can keep its channel designation using the Program and System Information Protocol.
22. When do I have to shut off my old channel?
Each station assigned a new channel will be assigned to one of 10 transition phases and given a phase completion date. The phase completion date will be listed in each station's CP as its construction deadline and is the last day that the station may operate on its pre-auction channel absent the grant of an STA. No station will be allowed to operate on its pre-auction channel beyond the end of the 39-month transition period.
23. If my new facility isn't ready do I still have to shut off my old channel?
Stations unable to complete construction of their post-auction facilities by their deadline may seek a single extension of up to 180 days. Extension requests are filed electronically via LMS on FCC Form 2100-Schedule 337 and must be filed 90 days before the deadline or phase completion date. The request must include an exhibit showing reasons for requiring an extension were either unforeseen or beyond the station's control, such as delays caused by weather, unavailability of equipment or tower crews, tower lease disputes, unusual technical problems, delays due to government or zoning approval.
24. Will my competitors, vendors and the public know exactly what I bought and how much I paid?
The FCC will make available for public review the amounts disbursed to each station, including the specific amount disbursed for a piece of equipment or service, but will not make available the name, address or other information that identifies the vendor.