Attention all repacked television broadcast stations (and eligible LPTV and FM stations): the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) has established final deadlines for submission of all reimbursement expenses invoices and documentation. The Commission also reminds stations to finish up and close-out, or money might be left on the table.The FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force and Media Bureau have announced via Public Notice (“PN”) the following filing deadlines for eligible entities to submit all remaining invoices and other documentation on FCC Form 2100, Schedule 399 Reimbursement Form for reimbursement from the TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund, and to initiate close-out procedures:
- Full Power TV and Class A TV stations in Repack Phases 1-5: October 8, 2021.
- Full Power TV and Class A TV stations in Repack Phases 6-10: March 22, 2022.
- LPTV stations, FM stations, and MVPDs: September 5, 2022.
Stations that were granted Phase changes are expected to meet the deadline associated with their revised Phase.
In addition to setting deadlines, the Commission uses the PN to chide broadcasters for “unnecessarily delaying making final submissions to the program and initiating interim close-out procedures.” Reading the tea leaves, it seems that such delays are creating some accounting problems in the management of the Fund: the FCC stresses in the PN that it cannot make final reimbursement allocations until all invoices are submitted and close-out procedures are begun. The Commission also nudges stations to submit invoices as soon as costs are incurred, not to wait until after construction is complete, and reminds stations that failure to complete construction and/or failure to submit all of the necessary documents by these new deadlines may result in a station being denied the full reimbursement it would otherwise be eligible for.
Lastly, stations are reminded that reimbursement funds are subject to possible audit, so stations should be careful to pay their vendors the funds received for each invoice. Stations unable to prove that the funds were validly disbursed may be forced to pay the money back to the government. In order to ensure documentation is available for a potential audit, stations are further reminded that they must retain all documentation for a period of 10 years after the last reimbursement is received.
It seems pretty straightforward that a station would want to seek any reimbursement it is owed, but sometimes real life is more complicated. We here at CommLawBlog are aware of some stations still trying to design and complete final post-transition facilities, having transitioned to their new channels with temporary or auxiliary facilities. The FCC understands these issues, but it is signaling that time and patience with these arrangements is running out; stations would be wise to buckle down and finalize plans.
As always, contact your communications counsel if you have questions or concerns about finishing your reimbursement efforts.