FCC Releases Proposed Progress Report Form and Seeks to Require Non-Reimbursable Stations to Comply

As the end of the Incentive Auction (hopefully) nears, the FCC has released additional information about the requirements and mechanisms for post-auction transition progress reporting by reimbursement-eligible stations, and has put out for comment a proposal to require similar reporting from stations which are not eligible for reimbursement funds but will nonetheless be relocated in the post-auction landscape.

Full-power and Class A television stations involuntarily reassigned to a new channel assignment are considered “Reimbursable Stations” eligible for relocation fund reimbursement and will be required to file Transition Progress Reports on a quarterly basis beginning the first quarter after the FCC releases the Closing and Reassignment Public Notice announcing the completion of the auction and the new channel assignments. Transition Progress Reports will be submitted electronically in LMS on Form 2100- Schedule 387. A model of the form is available for review in Appendix A to the public notice. Reimbursable Stations will also have to file Transition Progress Reports (i) 10 weeks prior to end of the assigned construction deadline; (ii) 10 days after construction of post-auction facilities is complete; and (iii) five days after ceasing operation on their pre-auction channels.

All of the information submitted in the Transition Progress Reports will be public and searchable by construction deadline and DMA in addition to the usual search parameters. The Commission makes a point that this information will be accessible to “tower companies, equipment providers, engineering consultants, and other interested parties,” to assure these parties that they will have access to information about any repacking they are coordinating, involved in, or working around without having to be directly discussing with each broadcaster. The reports will also be made public in each station’s online public file.

Of course, there are stations which will not be eligible for reimbursement but will nonetheless be moving to a new channel assignment in concert with the rest of the transition. It appears to have occurred to the Incentive Auction Task Force that progress reporting for these stations would be very useful to ensure they stay on schedule, and to give the FCC insight into resource constraints, delays and potential bottlenecks that would otherwise fly under the radar. These stations will include TV stations that accept a bid to move from UHF to a VHF channel, stations which elect no reimbursement funds in exchange for the right to service rule waivers, and a handful of specific displaced Class A stations deemed in prior orders to not be eligible for reimbursement of relocation costs (collectively, the “Non-Reimbursable Stations”). The FCC seeks comment on its proposal to subject Non-Reimbursable Station to the post-transition progress reporting requirements. Comments to MB Docket 16-306 and GN Docket 12-268 are due January 25th; reply comments are due on February 6.