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TAB advocates for boost in repack funds

- House measure protects affected stations

TAB is rallying support among Texas members of Congress for a measure approved by the House Energy & Commerce Committee this month that proposes increasing the spectrum repack fund. The provision is intended to ensure that affected TV stations are fully reimbursed for their relocation expenses and to allocate funding for related costs incurred by Radio stations, LPTV stations and TV translators.

When Congress approved the incentive spectrum auction that prompted the repack, it allocated just $1.75 billion for the relocation fund which was intended to hold harmless any full power TV station affected by the repack. That level was far below what industry experts knew would be required to fulfill Congress’ commitment and did not take into consideration the impact on other broadcast operations.

The additional funding now must be approved by Congressional appropriators which is a significant challenge. TAB dispatched 10 Texas broadcasters to Washington, DC this week to advocate for the funding, underscoring the real potential that communities across the state could lose access to some of their TV and Radio stations if the shortfall is not addressed.

Reps. Bill Flores of Waco and Pete Olson of Sugar Land – both Republicans and Texas’ only members of the Energy and Commerce committee’s telecommunications subcommittee – have been advocating for additional funds to ensure no station goes off the air because of circumstances beyond their control.

In September, Flores and Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston, filed HR 3685, the Radio Consumer Freedom Act of 2017, which would ensure that Radio stations affected by the spectrum repack are reimbursed for their relocation expenses.

Full agenda
TAB continues to fight attempts to impose a Performance Tax on Radio stations. Although a majority of the House is now on record opposing such a measure, the international record labels are relentless, and Radio broadcasters must remain vigilant. 

Texas continues to lead the country in the number of co-sponsors for the resolution opposing a Performance Tax. The bipartisan resolution was co-authored by Reps. Mike Conaway, R-Midland, and Gene Green, D-Houston.

Other major issues on the agenda include Microsoft’s renewed attempt to secure additional free spectrum on the TV band and the continued success of the retransmission consent regime.

Microsoft claims it wants the additional free spectrum to advance rural broadband deployment. The $700 billion company, which declined to bid on TV spectrum offered in the recently completed incentive spectrum auction, never delivered on its promise with the free spectrum it requested and was given in 2008.

A wide array of rural communities and agricultural interests oppose the Microsoft effort because it would likely shutter LPTV stations and translators that TV stations rely on to reach the far corners of their communities. These services already being stretched thin because of the spectrum repack.

TAB delegation
Texas broadcasters advocating on the industry’s behalf in Washington, DC this week include:

  • Ben Downs, Bryan Broadcasting
  • Sarah Frazier, Entercom Houston
  • Tami Honesty, Radio One Dallas-Fort Worth
  • John Kittleman, KRGV-TV Rio Grande Valley
  • Eric Lassberg, KXAN/KNVA/KBVO-TV Austin
  • Jerry Martin, KPRC-TV Houston
  • Julie Pruett, Nexstar Media Group
  • Ben Reed, Cox Media Group San Antonio
  • Gary Schneider, KTVT/KTXA-TV Dallas-Fort Worth

Questions? Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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