NPR asks FCC for flexibility in aiding radio stations affected by TV repack

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The FCC should adopt a flexible approach for reimbursing radio stations that incur costs related to repacking of TV spectrum, NPR said in comments filed with the commission Wednesday.

The FCC is considering how to use $50 million set aside by Congress in March for assisting radio stations affected by the repack. Some TV stations are making adjustments to broadcast equipment following last year’s FCC spectrum auction, and the process is affecting radio broadcasts as well. A CPB-commissioned report estimated last year that more than 90 public radio stations could lose space on broadcast towers, go off the air temporarily or face other disruptions.

The FCC suggested procedures in August for awarding reimbursements and asked for comments. In a September reply, NPR urged the FCC to award “full reimbursement for all reasonable costs” to stations affected by the repack.

The network said in its filing last week that a catalog of eligible expenses, released by the FCC in September, “should be considered an initial provisional list of common anticipated expenses rather than a definitive catalog of all eligible reimbursable expenses.”

“NPR wholeheartedly agrees that FM stations should be permitted to obtain reimbursement for equipment and services that are not listed and for costs that are higher than the ranges of estimated costs in the Cost Catalog,” the network said.

The FCC should also allow for reimbursing stations that have bought used equipment, NPR said. The network said it may start loaning “transmitters, antennas, studio kits and other equipment to stations for temporary auxiliary facilities,” which may require stations to pay for “testing, maintenance and retuning equipment.” Such costs should also be covered, NPR said.

In addition, NPR offered advice on the estimated costs of some eligible expenses in the FCC’s catalog, including equipment and attorney fees.

The FCC is expected to finalize the reimbursement guidelines by March 23.

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