PBS encourages FCC to disburse additional repack funds to stations

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PBS has asked the FCC to give public broadcasters additional financial assistance for repacking channels without “burdensome” added paperwork.

More than 38 million Americans in rural and remote areas watch public television over the air, according to an ex parte letter submitted to the FCC Thursday by PBS Assistant General Counsel Talia Rosen. The translators and low-power stations delivering public TV’s signals were initially ineligible for reimbursements for channel repack work following the FCC’s spectrum auction. Wireless provider T-Mobile agreed in June 2017 to cover those costs.

Congress subsequently adopted the Reimbursement Expansion Act in March to include repayment for work on low-power stations, translators and FM stations affected by the repack.

PBS said in its letter that the FCC should provide REA funds without “encumbering” public stations with “burdensome and repetitive documentation” to avoid prohibited duplicate payments from T-Mobile.

Funds from the act “should be implemented by the commission as equitably as possible to support broadcasters and wireless providers,” Rosen said.

The FCC must set reimbursement rules for translators and FM stations by March 23.

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