MEDIA BUREAU UPDATES THE INDUSTRY ON THE REPACKING PROCESS
We are getting close to the one-year time frame for completion of the Reimbursement Expansion Act, which ends on March 23, 2019. We will then know the rules and schedule for displacement relocation funding.
- About 2100 LPTV & TV translators applied for the $150 million displacement relocation funding from Congress.
- About 500 applications were dismissed, and 1434 have been approved, with another 101 either MX'd or still needing work.
- Assuming about 1500 final applications approved, and with $150 million in funding, we could say about $100K per displacement...but,
- Being issued a new displacement channel does not mean you will be eligible to receive reimbursement! You must also meet the "being on the air test" for the year preceding the incentive auction!
For all of the multi-year hassle of the auction and its anticipated impacts on our industry, the reality is that a minority of licensees (1500 of more than 8000) and permittees actually have to move in this process. But this does not take into account how many of the almost 1500+ outstanding displaced construction permits which still need to apply for new channels when the filing freeze is lifted. So the impacts continue. But what about the rest of the industry, those which are not displaced and may continue their operations?
Well the biggest impact to them has been the devaluation of the entire LPTV industry, and the lack of liquidity from all of the uncertainty. And remember, some 59% of the spectrum sold in the incentive auction came from the displacement of LPTV and translators, which comes to about $11 billion of value! However, this is a double edged impact, in that, the incentive auction national average pricing of the spectrum sold at auction comes in as a comp for about $7.50 per TV pop. The real impact is that the LPTV industry is still stuck at sub $1/pop pricing, and the Class A's only up to $1.25 at best.
And we still need to endure the discrimination the financial markets have against LPTV, such as no must carry, nor in most cases, no national top network affiliations. The chief main objection investors have, being secondary for interference, is the deal killer. And the one which we have to spend a lot of time to overcome, which we do when we point out that we are "licensed", and these licenses come with an expectation of renewal, and a right of displacement, just as any other FCC licensed service in any other band has.
We are more than the sum total of the impacts, costs, and hassles related to the incentive auction. We survived, we won the battles for renewal, reimbursement funds, and can now blaze into the bleeding edge of 3.0.
The PBS Network has filed the above ex parte letter with the FCC to ask for whatever funds are not used and approved from the LPTV and TV translator $150 million fund. So with about 1500 eligible entities, and even less when the on-air test is applied, the average for each displaced station will be about $100K. And of course this could only be $10K for you, and $150K for another, as we still do not know the exact info, but we will by the end of March!
So do not anticipate getting any funds from the FCC until Q4-2019 at the earliest, and most likely well after that over the next couple of years. This means that those of you displaced in Phase Zero, starting 18 months ago, might have to wait more than 2 years to get funding. Keep those receipts!