83 FR 43613 - LPTV, TV Translator, and FM Broadcast Station Reimbursement, Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

Federal Register Volume 83, Issue 166 (August 27, 2018)

Page Range43613-43633
FR Document2018-17844

In this document, the Commission proposes rules to implement Congress's recent directive that we reimburse certain Low Power Television (LPTV), television translator (TV translator), and FM broadcast stations for costs incurred as a result of the Commission's broadcast television spectrum incentive auction. When Congress authorized the Commission to conduct the incentive auction, it required the Commission to reimburse certain costs incurred by full power and Class A television licensees and multichannel video program distributors (MVPDs). On March 23, 2018, Congress adopted the Reimbursement Expansion Act (REA), which, among other things, expands the list of entities eligible to be reimbursed for auction-related expenses to include LPTV, TV translator, and FM broadcast stations, and to provide additional funds to the Reimbursement Fund to be used for this purpose. The REA requires the Commission to complete a rulemaking to adopt a reimbursement process for LPTV, TV translator, and FM stations within a year from the adoption date of the Act. This NPRM commences the proceeding to implement this directive and enable the Commission to meet this statutory deadline.

Federal Register, Volume 83 Issue 166 (Monday, August 27, 2018)
[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 166 (Monday, August 27, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 43613-43633]
From the Federal Register Online  [www.thefederalregister.org]
[FR Doc No: 2018-17844]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 73

[MB Docket No. 18-214, GN Docket No. 12-268; FCC 18-113]


LPTV, TV Translator, and FM Broadcast Station Reimbursement, 
Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through 
Incentive Auctions

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: In this document, the Commission proposes rules to implement 
Congress's recent directive that we reimburse certain Low Power 
Television (LPTV), television translator (TV translator), and FM 
broadcast stations for costs incurred as a result of the Commission's 
broadcast television spectrum incentive auction. When Congress 
authorized the Commission to conduct the incentive auction, it required 
the Commission to reimburse certain costs incurred by full power and 
Class A television licensees and multichannel video program 
distributors (MVPDs). On March 23, 2018, Congress adopted the 
Reimbursement Expansion Act (REA), which, among other things, expands 
the list of entities eligible to be reimbursed for auction-related 
expenses to include LPTV, TV translator, and FM broadcast stations, and 
to provide additional funds to the Reimbursement Fund to be used for 
this purpose. The REA requires the Commission to complete a rulemaking 
to adopt a reimbursement process for LPTV, TV translator, and FM 
stations within a year from the adoption date of the Act. This NPRM 
commences the proceeding to implement this directive and enable the 
Commission to meet this statutory deadline.

DATES: Comments may be filed on or before September 26, 2018; and reply 
comments may be filed on or before October 26, 2018.

ADDRESSES: Interested parties may submit comments and reply comments, 
identified by MB Docket No. 18-214 and GN Docket No. 12-268, by any of 
the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Federal Communications Commission's website: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. Follow the instructions for submitting 
comments.
     Mail: Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, 
by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. 
Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's 
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
     People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request 
reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language 
interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: [email protected] or phone: (202) 418-
0530 or TTY: (202) 418-0432. For detailed instructions for submitting 
comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the 
supplementary information section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kim Matthews of the FCC's Media 
Bureau, Policy Division, [email protected], (202) 418-2154.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's Notice 
of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), FCC 18-113, adopted August 2, 2018 and 
released August 3, 2018. The full text of this document is available 
for public inspection and copying during regular business hours in the 
FCC Reference Center, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th 
Street SW, Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. The complete text may be 
purchased from the Commission's copy contractor, 445 12th Street SW, 
Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554. This document will also be 
available via ECFS at http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/. Documents will be 
available electronically in ASCII, Microsoft Word, and/or Adobe 
Acrobat. Alternative formats are available for people with disabilities 
(Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format) by sending an 
email to [email protected] or calling the Commission's Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 
(TTY).
    The NPRM may result in new or revised information collection 
requirements. If the Commission adopts any new or revised information 
collection requirements, the Commission will publish a notice in the 
Federal Register inviting the public to comment on such requirements, 
as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. In addition, 
pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, the 
Commission will seek specific comment on how it might ``further reduce 
the information collection burden for small business concerns with 
fewer than 25 employees.''

Synopsis

I. Introduction

    1. In the NPRM, we propose rules to implement Congress's recent 
directive

[[Page 43614]]

that we reimburse certain LPTV, TV translator, and FM broadcast 
stations for costs incurred as a result of the Commission's broadcast 
television spectrum incentive auction. When Congress authorized the 
Commission to conduct the incentive auction as part of the 2012 
Spectrum Act, it required the Commission to reimburse certain costs 
incurred by full power and Class A television licensees that were 
reassigned to new channels as a result of the auction, as well as 
certain costs incurred by multichannel video program distributors 
(MVPDs) to continue to carry such stations. (47 U.S.C. 1452) On March 
23, 2018, Congress adopted the Reimbursement Expansion Act (REA), which 
amends Section 6403 of the Spectrum Act to expand the list of entities 
eligible to be reimbursed for auction-related expenses to include LPTV, 
TV translator, and FM broadcast stations, and to provide additional 
funds to the Reimbursement Fund to be used for this purpose. (47 U.S.C. 
1452(j) through (n)) The REA also increases the funds available to 
reimburse full power and Class A stations and MVPDs, and provides funds 
to the Commission for consumer education.
    2. In this NPRM, we propose a mechanism for reimbursing the newly 
eligible entities that is substantially similar to the process we 
currently use to reimburse full power and Class A licensees and MVPDs 
as established in the Incentive Auction R&O. See Expanding the Economic 
and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions, 
Report and Order, 79 FR 48442 (Aug. 15, 2014) (Incentive Auction R&O). 
Among the key proposals are the following:
     We tentatively conclude that LPTV and TV translator 
stations (collectively referred to herein as LPTV/translator stations) 
are eligible for reimbursement if (1) they filed an application during 
the Commission's Special Displacement Window and obtained a 
construction permit, and (2) were licensed and transmitting for at 
least 9 of the 12 months prior to April 13, 2017, as required by the 
REA.
     We also tentatively conclude that we will reimburse LPTV/
translator stations for their reasonable costs to construct the 
facilities authorized by the grant of the station's Special 
Displacement Window application, but will require stations to reuse 
existing equipment and take other measures to mitigate costs where 
possible.
     With respect to FM broadcast stations, we tentatively 
conclude that both full power FM stations and FM translators that were 
licensed and transmitting on April 13, 2017, using the facilities 
impacted by the repacked television station are eligible for 
reimbursement under the REA. We propose that this will include FM 
stations that incur costs because they must permanently relocate, 
temporarily or permanently modify their facilities, or purchase or 
modify auxiliary facilities to provide service to at least 80 percent 
of their primary station's coverage area or population during a period 
of time when construction work is occurring on a collocated repacked 
television station's facilities.
     We propose to reimburse up to 100 percent of the costs 
eligible for reimbursement for FM stations that must relocate 
permanently, or temporarily or permanently modify facilities. We seek 
comment on a graduated, prioritized system to reimburse FM stations for 
the cost to purchase or modify auxiliary equipment to avoid going 
silent as a result of the repacking process.
     We propose to require LPTV/translator and FM stations 
seeking reimbursement to file with the Commission one or more forms 
certifying that they meet the eligibility criteria established in this 
proceeding for reimbursement, providing information regarding their 
current broadcasting equipment, and providing an estimate of their 
costs eligible for reimbursement. We invite comment on ways to 
streamline the submission of this information for these entities.
     We propose that after the submission of information, the 
Media Bureau will provide eligible entities with an allocation of 
funds, to be available for draw down as the entities incur expenses. We 
propose that the Media Bureau will make an initial allocation toward 
eligible expenses, followed by subsequent allocation(s) as needed, to 
the extent funds remain for LPTV/translator stations and FM stations in 
the Reimbursement Fund, and we seek comment on how to determine the 
amount of these allocations.
     We propose to use revised versions of the financial forms 
currently being used by full power, Class A, and MVPD entities for 
purposes of reimbursing eligible LPTV/translator and FM stations, and 
we propose to use the same procedures to provide reimbursement payments 
to these newly eligible entities.
     We discuss the measures we propose to take to protect the 
Reimbursement Fund against waste, fraud, and abuse.
    3. The Commission adopted a companion Order together with the NPRM. 
That Order is the subject of a separate Federal Register summary.

II. Background

A. Reimbursement Expansion Act

    4. On March 23, 2018, Congress adopted the REA, directing the 
Commission to ``reimburse costs reasonably incurred'' by a TV 
translator or LPTV station in order to ``relocate'' to another channel 
or ``otherwise modify'' its facility as a result of the reorganization 
of broadcast television spectrum. In addition, the REA directs the 
Commission to ``reimburse costs reasonably incurred'' by an FM station 
``for facilities necessary for such station to reasonably minimize 
disruption of service'' as a result of the reorganization of broadcast 
television spectrum. The REA also provides funding for the Commission 
to make payments for the purpose of consumer education relating to the 
reorganization of broadcast television spectrum.
    5. The REA appropriates a total of $1 billion in additional funds 
for the Reimbursement Fund, $600 million in fiscal year 2018 and $400 
million in fiscal year 2019. Of the $600 million appropriated in fiscal 
year 2018, the Act authorizes the Commission to use ``not more than'' 
$350 million to make reimbursements to full power and Class A stations 
and MVPDs pursuant to the Spectrum Act, ``not more than'' $150 million 
to reimburse TV translator and LPTV stations, ``not more than'' $50 
million to reimburse FM broadcast stations, and $50 million to make 
``payments solely for the purposes of consumer education relating to 
the reorganization of broadcast television spectrum'' pursuant to the 
Spectrum Act. We seek comment below on two different interpretations of 
the statutory provisions that relate to the availability of the $400 
million appropriated in fiscal year 2019 and, specifically, on whether 
these funds are available to reimburse newly eligible LPTV, TV 
translator, and FM broadcast stations, in addition to full power, Class 
A, and MVPD entities.
    6. The REA establishes a number of conditions on the availability 
and use of the $1 billion it appropriates to the Reimbursement Fund. 
First, it provides that these funds are available only if the 
Commission makes a certification ``to the Secretary of the Treasury 
that the funds available prior to the date of enactment'' of the REA 
``in the TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund are likely to be insufficient 
to reimburse reasonably incurred costs'' of full power and Class A 
stations and MVPDs pursuant to the Spectrum Act. Second,

[[Page 43615]]

it provides that the funds may be used by the Commission to make 
payments after April 13, 2020, only if, ``before making any such 
payments after such date, the Commission submits to Congress a 
certification that such payments are necessary to reimburse'' costs 
reasonably incurred by entities eligible for reimbursement pursuant to 
the Spectrum Act and the REA. Third, the REA requires that the 
Commission use the funds it appropriates to make all reimbursements to 
full power and Class A stations, MVPDs, LPTV/translators, and FM 
stations by July 3, 2023, at the latest. The Commission may, however, 
establish an earlier date by which its reimbursement program will end 
if it certifies to the Secretary of the Treasury that all 
reimbursements to full power, Class A, and MVPDs, as specified by the 
Spectrum Act, and all reimbursements to LPTV/translators and FM 
stations, as specified by the REA, have been made.
    7. Section 511(k)(3) of the REA states that duplicative payments to 
``a low power television station that has been accorded primary status 
as a Class A television licensee under [47 CFR 73.6001(a)]'' from the 
Reimbursement Fund are prohibited. Specifically, such licensee may not 
receive reimbursement under Section 511(k)(1) of the REA, which 
provides for reimbursement of eligible displaced LPTV/translator 
stations, if such station has received reimbursement under Section 
6403(b)(4)(A)(i) of the Spectrum Act (including the additional funding 
made available for reimbursing full power, Class A, and MVPDs in 
Section 511(j)(2)(A)(i) of the REA). Similarly, Section 511(k)(3)(B) 
specifies that if such station receives reimbursement under Section 
511(k)(1) of the REA, it may not receive reimbursement under Section 
6403(b)(4)(A)(i) of the Spectrum Act. Section 511(k)(3)(A) also 
provides that if a low power television station that has been accorded 
primary status as a Class A television licensee receives reimbursement 
``from any other source, such station may not receive reimbursement 
under paragraph 1'' of Section 511(k), which permits reimbursement of 
costs reasonably incurred by eligible LPTV/translator stations that 
filed in the Special Displacement Window. Section 511(l)(1)(C) states 
that ``[i]f an FM broadcast station has received a payment for interim 
facilities from the licensee of a television broadcast station that was 
reimbursed for such payment'' under the Spectrum Act, ``or from any 
other source,'' such FM broadcast station may not receive reimbursement 
under the REA.
    8. Finally, the REA requires the Commission to complete a 
rulemaking to implement a reimbursement process for LPTV, TV 
translator, and FM stations ``[n]ot later than 1 year'' after the 
adoption of the Act, or by March 23, 2019. It also directs that the 
rulemaking include ``the development of lists of reasonable eligible 
costs to be reimbursed by the Commission'' and ``procedures for the 
submission and review of cost estimates and other materials related to 
those costs consistent with the regulations developed by the 
Commission'' in establishing the reimbursement process for full power, 
Class A, and MVPD entities.

B. Incentive Auction and Transition Period

    9. Congress authorized the Commission to conduct the incentive 
auction to help meet the Nation's growing spectrum needs. In the 
``reverse auction'' phase of the incentive auction, television 
broadcasters had the opportunity to voluntarily relinquish some or all 
of their broadcast television spectrum usage rights in exchange for a 
share of the proceeds from a ``forward auction'' of new, flexible-use 
licenses suitable for mobile broadband use. In the Incentive Auction 
R&O, the Commission adopted its proposal to limit reverse auction 
participation to licensees of commercial and noncommercial educational 
(NCE) full power and Class A stations.
    10. Stations that remained on the air after the auction were 
reorganized during the ``repacking'' process to occupy a smaller 
portion of the television spectrum, and some were assigned new channels 
to clear spectrum for use by wireless providers. The Commission 
specified that full power and Class A facilities that already were 
operating pursuant to a license (or a pending application for a license 
to cover a construction permit) on February 22, 2012, would be 
protected in the repacking process, as Congress required. The 
Commission also exercised its discretion to protect certain, additional 
full power and Class A stations. The Commission declined to protect 
other categories of facilities, including LPTV/translator stations, on 
the basis that such facilities are secondary in nature and protecting 
them would have unduly restrained the agency's flexibility in the 
repacking process and undermined its ability to meet the goals of the 
incentive auction.
    11. On April 13, 2017, after the conclusion of auction bidding, the 
Incentive Auction Task Force and the Media and Wireless 
Telecommunications Bureaus released the Closing and Channel 
Reassignment PN, which announced the completion of the auction, the 
auction results, and the broadcast television channel reassignments. 
The release of the Closing and Channel Reassignment PN also commenced 
the 39-month post-auction transition period (transition period) during 
which all reassigned stations must transition to their post-auction 
channel assignments. Reassigned stations had three months, or until 
July 12, 2017, to file construction permit applications for any minor 
changes to their facilities needed to operate on their new channels. 
Following the three-month application filing deadline, stations have up 
to 36 months, or until July 13, 2020, to transition to their new 
channels.
    12. To ensure an orderly, managed transition process, the 
Commission established a phased construction schedule for the 
transition period and grouped all full power and Class A television 
stations transitioning to new channels into one of 10 transition 
phases. The Closing and Channel Reassignment PN announced the specific 
transition phase, phase completion date, and testing period applicable 
to each transitioning station.

C. LPTV and TV Translator Stations and FM Broadcasters

    13. LPTV and TV Translators. LPTV/translator stations are secondary 
to full power television stations, which may be authorized and operated 
``without regard to existing or proposed low power TV or TV translator 
stations.'' LPTV/translator stations were not eligible to participate 
in the incentive auction and were not eligible for reimbursement 
pursuant to the Spectrum Act. In addition, while the Spectrum Act 
required the Commission to make ``all reasonable efforts'' to preserve 
the coverage area and population served of eligible full power and 
Class A television stations in the incentive auction repacking process, 
as noted above, LPTV/translator stations were not protected. 
Accordingly, the Incentive Auction R&O noted the potential for a 
significant number of LPTV/translator stations to be displaced as a 
result of the auction or repacking process which would require them 
either to find a new channel from the smaller number of channels that 
remain in the reorganized broadcast television bands or to discontinue 
operations altogether.
    14. The Commission has taken a number of steps to mitigate the 
impact of the auction and repacking process on LPTV/translator 
stations. The Media

[[Page 43616]]

Bureau opened a special filing window on April 10, 2018 to offer 
operating LPTV/translator stations that are displaced an opportunity to 
select a new channel. That displacement window closed on June 1, 2018. 
In total, the Commission received 2,159 applications during the window 
which are currently under consideration. Applicants will have the 
opportunity to resolve any mutual exclusivity through settlement or 
engineering amendments filed prior to the close of a Settlement Window 
to be announced by the Media Bureau. Should applications remain 
mutually exclusive after the Settlement Window, a schedule will be set 
for them to be resolved subject to the Commission's competitive bidding 
rules.
    15. Some LPTV/translator stations have already been displaced. 
Pursuant to our rules, LPTV/translator stations that were on channels 
38 through 51 must terminate operations if they receive notice of 
likely interference to a new 600 MHz Band licensee that intends to 
commence operations or conduct first field application (FFA) testing on 
their licensed 600 MHz spectrum. The Commission has granted a number of 
600 MHz licenses, which authorized the licensees to construct 
facilities on their new spectrum. T-Mobile USA (T-Mobile), one of the 
recipients of those licenses, provided notices to certain LPTV and TV 
translator stations that it would commence operations or conduct FFA 
testing on some of its licensed spectrum before the opening of the 
Special Displacement Window. The Commission therefore provided tools to 
these ``early displaced'' LPTV/translator stations to ensure that they 
would be able to continue to broadcast. One of these tools was for a 
displaced station to submit a displacement application prior to the 
opening of the Special Displacement Window with a request for waiver of 
the current displacement freeze, and file for Special Temporary 
Authority to temporarily operate the facility proposed in the 
displacement application. The Tools PN further explained that 
applications filed with a request for waiver of the displacement freeze 
would be treated as if filed on the last day of the Special 
Displacement Window and processed in accordance with the rules for that 
window. Approximately 340 displacement applications were filed prior to 
the Special Displacement Window pursuant to the Tools PN. Independent 
of the Tools PN, T-Mobile created a Supplemental Reimbursement Plan 
whereby it committed to pay the reasonable costs associated for such 
stations to move from a temporary channel to a permanent channel if the 
station's displacement application for the temporary channel was not 
granted and the station therefore needs to move twice. In addition, T-
Mobile and PBS announced in June 2017 that T-Mobile had committed to 
cover the costs for PBS translator stations to relocate their 
frequencies following the incentive auction.
    16. FM Broadcasters. FM broadcasters were not eligible to 
participate in the auction, were not subject to the repacking process, 
and were not eligible for reimbursement pursuant to the Spectrum Act. 
While FM spectrum was not subject to reorganization in the repacking 
process, FM stations may be affected by the reorganization of broadcast 
television spectrum if, for example, an FM station shares a tower with 
a repacked TV station. Changes to the facilities of the TV station 
could affect the FM station if, for example, the FM station antenna 
must be moved, either temporarily or permanently, to accommodate the TV 
station's change or if an FM station needs to power down, or cease 
operating temporarily, to permit a repacked TV broadcaster to modify 
its facilities. In total, we estimate this could include fewer than 500 
full-service stations.

D. Full Power, Class A, and MVPD Reimbursement Process

    17. As we initiate the proceeding to reimburse additional entities 
affected by the reorganization of broadcast television spectrum, we 
find the current eligibility criteria, process, and procedures 
associated with the Reimbursement Fund instructive. We summarize 
pertinent details below.
    18. The Spectrum Act requires the Commission to reimburse full 
power and Class A broadcast television licensees for costs ``reasonably 
incurred'' in relocating to their new channels assigned in the 
repacking process, and to reimburse MVPDs for costs ``reasonably 
incurred'' in order to continue to carry the signals of stations 
relocating to new channels as a result of the repacking process or a 
winning reverse auction bid. Congress specified that these 
reimbursements be made from the Reimbursement Fund, and that the 
Commission make all reimbursements within three years after completion 
of the forward auction (Reimbursement Period). In the Incentive Auction 
R&O, the Commission concluded that, with respect to broadcast 
licensees, the Spectrum Act's reimbursement mandate applies only to 
full power and Class A television licensees that are involuntarily 
reassigned to new channels in the repacking process.
    19. In the Incentive Auction R&O, the Commission established the 
reimbursement process that is currently in place. Following the release 
of the Closing and Channel Reassignment PN, entities seeking 
reimbursement provided information regarding their existing 
broadcasting equipment and their plan to accomplish the channel 
transition, including an estimate of their eligible costs, by filing 
FCC Form 2100, Schedule 399 (the Reimbursement Form), in the Media 
Bureau's Licensing and Management System (LMS). Estimated costs could 
be provided by the entity or by using predetermined cost estimates 
based on the Catalog of Potential Expenses and Eligible Costs (Catalog 
of Reimbursement Expenses, or Catalog) developed by the Media Bureau. 
The Catalog sets forth categories of expenses that are most likely to 
be commonly incurred by broadcasters and MVPDs as a result of the 
repacking process, together with ranges of prices for the potential 
expenses. The Media Bureau, with assistance from a contractor with 
extensive experience in television broadcast engineering and Federal 
funds management (Fund Administrator), reviews the cost estimates.
    20. The Commission's goal is to ensure that reimbursement funds are 
allocated fairly and consistently across all eligible entities and, at 
the same time, to have sufficient flexibility to make reasoned 
allocation decisions that maximize the funds available for 
reimbursement. To this end, reimbursement funds are being allocated in 
tranches, with the allocation amounts calculated based in part on the 
total amount of repacking expenses reported on the estimated cost forms 
as well as the amount of money available in the Reimbursement Fund. On 
October 16, 2017, an initial allocation of approximately $1 billion was 
made, which represented approximately 52 percent of the then-current 
verified cost estimates for commercial stations and MVPDs, and 62 
percent for NCE broadcasters. A further allocation of approximately 
$742 million was made on April 16, 2018, providing all repacked full 
power and Class A stations and MVPDs access to approximately 92.5 
percent of their then-current verified cost estimates. The Commission 
will continue to monitor closely the draw-down of the Reimbursement 
Fund to determine if additional allocations are warranted.
    21. The allocation is available for draw down and reimbursement 
from the U.S. Treasury as the entities incur

[[Page 43617]]

expenses eligible for reimbursement and submit invoices that are 
approved for payment. Entities draw down against their individual 
allocations using the Reimbursement Form to report incurred expenses 
and upload invoices or receipts into LMS. To facilitate the 
disbursement of reimbursement payments, entities were also required to 
submit payment instructions to the Commission by (i) submitting a 
signed and notarized FCC Form 1876, along with a bank account 
verification letter or redacted bank statement that confirms ownership 
of the bank account, for each Facility ID/File Number receiving a 
reimbursement payment; and (ii) entering bank account information for 
the reimbursement payment recipient in the CORES Incentive Auction 
Financial Module.
    22. Prior to the end of the three-year Reimbursement Period, 
entities must provide information regarding their actual and remaining 
estimated costs and will be issued a final allocation, if appropriate, 
to cover the remainder of their eligible costs. If any allocated funds 
remain in excess of the entity's actual costs determined to be eligible 
for reimbursement, those funds will revert back to the Reimbursement 
Fund. In addition, if an overpayment is discovered, even after the end 
of the Reimbursement Period, entities will be required to return the 
excess to the Commission.

III. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

A. Amounts Available for Reimbursement

    23. As an initial matter, we seek comment on how to interpret the 
statute with respect to amounts available to reimburse eligible 
entities pursuant to the REA using funds appropriated for fiscal year 
2019. Section 511(j)(1) of the REA appropriates funds ``to the TV 
Broadcaster Relocation Fund established by [47 U.S.C. 1452(d)]''--
specifically, $600 million for fiscal year 2018 and $400 million for 
fiscal year 2019. Section 511(j)(2) of the REA discusses the 
``availability of funds'' and provides that, if the Commission makes 
the required certification, ``amounts made available to the TV 
Broadcaster Relocation Fund by [Section 511(j)(1)] shall be available 
to the Commission to make'' certain specified payments. In particular, 
Section 511(j)(2)(A) states that funds appropriated in Section 
511(j)(1) shall be available to the Commission to make payments 
required by the Spectrum Act and the REA, including ``not more than'' 
$350 million to reimburse full power and Class A stations and MVPDs 
from fiscal year 2018 funds, ``not more than'' $150 million to 
reimburse LPTV and TV translator stations from fiscal year 2018 funds, 
and ``not more than'' $50 million to reimburse FM broadcast stations 
from fiscal year 2018 funds. It also states that funds appropriated in 
Section 511(j)(1) shall be available to the Commission to make payments 
``solely for the purposes of consumer education relating to the 
reorganization of broadcast television spectrum,'' including $50 
million from the funds available for fiscal year 2018. While Section 
511(j)(2)(A) clearly delineates the availability of funds for fiscal 
year 2018, it does not do so with respect to fiscal year 2019 funding.
    24. We therefore seek comment on whether the $400 million 
appropriated to the Reimbursement Fund for fiscal year 2019 is only 
available to reimburse eligible full power and Class A stations and 
MVPDs for costs reasonably incurred in the repacking process or whether 
the REA also permits this money to be used to reimburse LPTV, TV 
translators, and FM broadcast stations, as well as to fund the 
Commission's consumer education efforts.
    25. If the Commission were to interpret the statute to find that it 
is authorized to reimburse eligible LPTV, TV translator, and FM 
broadcast stations and to fund consumer education efforts from the 
fiscal year 2019 funds, in addition to reimbursing full power, Class A, 
and MVPD entities, we seek comment on whether and how the Commission 
should prioritize this funding. While we have received estimates of the 
costs that full power and Class A stations anticipate as a result of 
their channel reassignments, we have no estimates to date of the costs 
that will be incurred by LPTV, TV translator, and FM stations. 
Moreover, as we have indicated, we anticipate that the estimates for 
full power and Class A stations will increase as their construction 
process continues. It is therefore possible that there will be 
significant demand on the Reimbursement Fund from all categories of 
eligible entities such that the total amount available may not be 
sufficient to cover all their eligible expenses. If so, should the 
Commission prioritize the payments to full power and Class A stations 
over those of FM stations and LPTV/translator stations? We also seek 
comment on whether the Commission should prioritize the payment of full 
power and Class A stations over any aggregate costs exceeding the 
limits described in Section 511(j)(2) of $50 million for FM stations 
and $150 million for LPTV/translator stations. In other words, should 
the Commission consider reimbursement of costs above those aggregate 
amounts for FM and LPTV/translator stations only after full power and 
Class A expenses are fully satisfied? We seek comment on these issues.

B. LPTV and TV Translator Stations--Eligibility and Expenses

    26. As discussed above, the REA authorized the Commission to 
reimburse ``costs reasonably incurred by a television translator or low 
power television station on or after January 1, 2017, in order for such 
station to relocate its television service from one channel to another 
channel or otherwise modify its facility as a result of the 
reorganization of broadcast television spectrum'' under Section 6403(b) 
of the Spectrum Act. In this section, we seek comment on issues related 
to eligibility and expenses under the REA provisions for reimbursement 
of displaced LPTV and TV translator stations.
1. Stations Eligible for Reimbursement
a. LPTV/Translator Stations
    27. The REA provides that costs reasonably incurred by certain 
``television translator station[s] or low power television station[s]'' 
to relocate channels or modify facilities as a result of the 
reorganization of broadcast television spectrum are eligible for 
reimbursement. The REA specifies that these two types of stations are 
to be defined pursuant to the definition included in 47 CFR 74.701. We 
interpret this provision to mean that LPTV and TV translator stations, 
as defined by Sec.  74.701 of our rules, may be eligible for 
reimbursement under the Reimbursement Fund if they meet the additional 
eligibility criteria discussed below, and we seek comment on this 
interpretation.
(i) Special Displacement Window Eligibility Criteria
    28. The REA provides that ``[o]nly stations that are eligible to 
file and do file an application in the Commission's Special 
Displacement Window are eligible to seek reimbursement.'' The Media 
Bureau has provided that, to be eligible to file in the Special 
Displacement Window, a station had to be an LPTV/translator station 
that was ``operating'' on April 13, 2017--the date of the release of 
the Closing and Channel Reassignment PN. Furthermore, for this purpose, 
a station is ``operating'' if it had licensed its authorized 
construction permit facilities or had an application for a license to 
cover on file with the Commission on that date. The station must also 
be ``displaced . . . as a result of the

[[Page 43618]]

broadcast television spectrum incentive auction.'' Therefore, we 
tentatively conclude that, to be eligible for reimbursement, a station 
must be an LPTV/translator station that was eligible to file and did 
file an application during the Special Displacement Window. As noted 
above, the Commission received 2,159 applications during the window 
which, subject to the other eligibility requirements, represents the 
largest possible universe of LPTV/translator stations that could be 
eligible for reimbursement.
    29. While the threshold eligibility criteria set forth in the REA 
require only that a station was ``eligible to file and [did] file an 
application'' in the Special Displacement Window, we tentatively 
conclude that, to be eligible for reimbursement, a station's 
displacement application filed during the Special Displacement Window 
(or prior to the window with grant of a waiver, or subsequently amended 
prior to the close of the Settlement Window) must be granted. Although 
this requirement is not mandated by the REA, we believe that this 
additional criterion is essential to ensure the integrity of the 
reimbursement program and is consistent with Section 511(k)(1), which 
requires reimbursement of only costs reasonably incurred to ``relocate 
. . . television service from one channel to another channel . . . or 
otherwise modify [a] facility.'' We believe that eligibility must be 
limited to stations with valid displacement construction permits 
obtained through the procedural mechanisms associated with the Special 
Displacement Window that will permit them to construct the displacement 
facilities for which they receive reimbursement. Otherwise, providing 
reimbursement to eligible stations whose applications are not granted 
will result in reimbursement for expenses related to facilities that 
will not be constructed to ``relocate . . . television service from one 
channel to another channel . . . or otherwise modify [a] facility.'' We 
seek comment on this tentative conclusion.
    30. An LPTV/translator station that filed in the Special 
Displacement Window whose application is dismissed may subsequently 
file a displacement application when the Media Bureau lifts the freeze 
on the filing of such applications. We tentatively conclude that such 
stations will be eligible for reimbursement under the REA if their 
later-filed displacement application is subsequently granted. Although 
they would receive their construction permit through a displacement 
application that was not filed during the Special Displacement Window, 
these stations would meet the threshold eligibility criteria under the 
REA because such stations were ``eligible to file and [did] file an 
application'' in the Special Displacement Window. In addition, such 
stations are affected by the reorganization of broadcast television 
spectrum in the same way as other displaced LPTV/translator stations. 
We seek comment on whether and how such stations could be included in 
the reimbursement process considering that they will not be able to 
meet the same filing deadlines applicable to other eligible LPTV/
translator stations that have applications granted in the Special 
Displacement Window and, depending on the demand on the Reimbursement 
Fund, this difference could result in a lack of reimbursement 
resources. Would allowing such stations to be eligible for 
reimbursement be appropriate given the finite resources of the 
Reimbursement Fund? Should such stations be eligible for reimbursement 
only to the extent funds remain available for LPTV/translator stations 
in the Reimbursement Fund?
(ii) ``Licensed and Transmitting'' Eligibility Criteria
    31. The REA provides that only stations that were ``licensed and 
transmitting for at least 9 of the 12 months prior to April 13, 2017,'' 
are eligible to receive reimbursement under the REA. The statute also 
specifies that ``the operation of analog and digital companion 
facilities may be combined'' for purposes of the ``licensed and 
transmitting'' requirement. We propose that, consistent with the 
eligibility requirement for participation in the Special Displacement 
Window, stations that were licensed or that filed a license to cover 
application prior to April 13, 2017, be considered ``licensed'' for 
purposes of REA reimbursement eligibility.
    32. Because neither Commission rules nor the REA specifies a 
definition of ``transmitting,'' we propose a definition that relies on 
the Commission's minimum operating schedule rule for commercial full 
power television broadcast stations. That rule provides that commercial 
full power television stations must ``operate'' not less than 2 hours 
in each day of the week and not less than a total of 28 hours per 
calendar week. Therefore, we propose that, in order to be considered 
``transmitting,'' stations seeking reimbursement under the REA must 
have been operating not less than 2 hours in each day of the week and 
not less than a total of 28 hours per calendar week for 9 of the 12 
months prior to April 13, 2017. We believe that, given the finite 
nature of the Reimbursement Fund, it is necessary to give reasonable 
meaning to the eligibility criteria set forth in the REA. By defining 
``transmitting'' in the same way as we do for full power stations, we 
intend to prioritize reimbursement for LPTV/translator stations that 
provided more robust service to the public over those that were on the 
air for only a brief period each day. Because a translator station is 
required to retransmit the signal of a television station, we would 
expect that most, if not all, translators would meet this requirement. 
We believe that this requirement reflects the legislative mandate that 
only ``transmitting'' stations be eligible to receive reimbursement. We 
seek comment on this proposal.
    33. We propose that stations be required to certify compliance with 
the minimum operating requirement we adopt as part of the reimbursement 
process. LPTV/translator stations may be required to provide evidence 
to support this certification, such as documentation of the programming 
aired by the station during the period of time in question, electric 
power bills, or other evidence showing that the station was 
transmitting during this time period. The Commission previously 
determined that, with respect to the incentive auction reimbursement 
program, ``audits, data validations, and site visits are essential 
tools in preventing waste, fraud, and abuse, and that use of these 
measures will maximize the amount of money available for 
reimbursement.'' With respect to reimbursing low-power broadcast 
stations, we contemplate that a third party firm on behalf of, or in 
conjunction with, the Media Bureau may conduct audits, data 
validations, site visits or other verifications to substantiate the 
supporting evidence and representations of entities that certify that 
they meet the eligibility criteria adopted in this proceeding to the 
extent necessary. We propose to direct such entities to make available 
any relevant documentation upon request from the Commission or its 
contractor. We emphasize that a false certification may result in 
disqualification and other sanctions provided for in the Communications 
Act and the Commission's rules. We seek comment on these proposals.
b. Other Eligible Stations
    34. Early Displaced Stations. We propose that LPTV and TV 
translator stations that were displaced early, were eligible to file in 
the Special Displacement Window, and filed a displacement application 
prior to the

[[Page 43619]]

Special Displacement Window will be eligible for reimbursement under 
the REA. As described above, some LPTV/translator stations were 
displaced prior to the Special Displacement Window as a result of T-
Mobile's decision to commence wireless operations in the 600 MHz band. 
As noted above, approximately 340 such stations filed a request for 
waiver of the displacement freeze and a request for an STA, and the 
Media Bureau has treated these filings as if filed on the last day of 
the Special Displacement Window. Such applications will be processed in 
accordance with the rules for that window. Because these stations meet 
the definition of LPTV/translator stations eligible for reimbursement 
under the REA, and their displacement applications were considered as 
filed during the Special Displacement Window, we propose that these 
stations will be eligible for reimbursement if they meet all of the 
other eligibility requirements. We seek comment on this proposal.
    35. Replacement Translators. In the Incentive Auction R&O, the 
Commission concluded that digital low power TV translator stations 
authorized pursuant to Sec.  74.787(a)(5) of the Commission's rules 
(analog-to-digital replacement translators, or DRTs) that were 
displaced by the incentive auction and repacking process are eligible 
to file displacement applications during the Special Displacement 
Window. Because DRTs are potentially displaced as a result of the 
reorganization of broadcast television spectrum, were eligible to file 
in the Special Displacement Window, and are considered ``TV 
translators'' and licensed under the same Part 74 rules as other TV 
translator stations, we propose that displaced DRTs also are eligible 
for reimbursement pursuant to the REA, as long as they meet the other 
eligibility requirements. We seek comment on this proposal.
    36. In the LPTV DTV Third R&O, the Commission established a new 
digital-to-digital replacement translator (DTDRT) service to allow 
eligible full power television stations to recover lost digital service 
area that could result from the repacking process. The Commission 
concluded that full power stations may begin to file for DTDRTs 
beginning with the opening of the Special Displacement Window on April 
10, 2018, and ending one year after completion of the incentive auction 
transition period. Although they were eligible to file in the Special 
Displacement Window, and DTDRTs are similar to DRTs in that they are 
considered ``TV translators'' and licensed under the same Part 74 rules 
as other TV translator stations, we tentatively conclude that new 
DTDRTs are not eligible for reimbursement under the REA because they 
would not have been ``licensed and transmitting'' for 9 of the past 12 
months prior to April 13, 2017, as required by the statute. In 
addition, even if they were otherwise eligible under the statutory 
criteria, DTDRTs are newly established facilities and thus are not 
``relocat[ing] . . . from one channel to another channel'' or 
``modify[ing]'' their facilities as required by the statute. We seek 
comment on this tentative conclusion.
    37. Class A Television Licensees. As noted above, Section 511(k)(3) 
of the REA prohibits duplicative payments from the Reimbursement Fund 
to ``a low power television station that has been accorded primary 
status as a Class A television licensee under [47 CFR 73.6001(a)].'' 
Specifically, Section 511(k)(3)(A) provides that such licensee may not 
receive reimbursement under Section 511(k)(1) of the REA if such 
station has received reimbursement under Section 6403(b)(4)(A)(i) of 
the Spectrum Act (including the additional funding made available for 
reimbursing full power, Class A, and MVPDs in Section 511(j)(2)(A)(i) 
of the REA). We interpret this language to underscore that Class A 
stations reimbursed from funds for Class A stations under the Spectrum 
Act or the REA are not eligible for reimbursement from funds dedicated 
to LPTV/translator reimbursement under the REA. Such Class A stations 
were not eligible to file an application during the Special 
Displacement Window and thus do not qualify for reimbursement for LPTV/
translator stations under the REA. Similarly, Section 511(k)(3)(B) 
specifies that a low power television station that has been accorded 
primary status as a Class A television licensee that receives 
reimbursement under Section 511(k)(1) of the REA may not receive 
reimbursement under Section 6403(b)(4)(A)(i) of the Spectrum Act. We 
interpret this language to underscore that such stations that filed in 
the Special Displacement Window are not eligible for reimbursement 
under Section 6403(b)(4)(A)(i) because they are not full power or Class 
A stations involuntarily reassigned to a new channel in the repacking 
process. We seek comment on our interpretations.
2. Expenses Eligible for Reimbursement
a. Costs Reasonably Incurred
    38. The REA provides that the Commission shall ``reimburse costs 
reasonably incurred by a television translator station or low power 
television station on or after January 1, 2017, in order for such 
station to relocate its television service from one channel to another 
channel or otherwise modify its facility as a result of the 
reorganization of broadcast television spectrum'' under the Spectrum 
Act. As discussed above, on April 13, 2017, we released the Closing and 
Channel Reassignment PN, which announced the completion of the auction, 
the auction results, the broadcast television channel reassignments 
made through repacking, and the 600 MHz Band plan reflecting the 
reallocations of broadcast television spectrum for flexible use and the 
frequencies that will serve as part of the 600 MHz Band guard bands. We 
interpret the REA to provide for reimbursement of reasonably incurred 
relocation costs for LPTV/translator stations that were displaced ``as 
a result of the reorganization of broadcast television spectrum'' under 
the Spectrum Act, which includes displacement resulting from full power 
and Class A channel reassignments made in the Closing and Channel 
Reassignment PN and from the reallocation of broadcast television 
spectrum for flexible use by a 600 MHz Band wireless licensee or for 
use as 600 MHz Band guard bands.
    39. While the Commission's reorganization of television spectrum 
under Section 1452(b) of the Spectrum Act was completed with the 
issuance of the Closing and Channel Reassignment PN, the Commission 
also afforded reassigned stations the opportunity to file applications 
for alternate channels or expanded facilities during two filing windows 
that ended on September 15 and November 2, 2017. We anticipate that 
some LPTV/translator stations that filed applications during the 
Special Displacement Window may have been displaced by grant of an 
application filed during one of the alternate channel/expanded 
facilities filing windows, rather than the channel reassignments 
specified in the Closing and Channel Reassignment PN. While 
applications filed during the two filing windows by reassigned full 
power and Class A stations to modify their repacked facilities were not 
required under Section 1452(b) of the Spectrum Act, they may have 
resulted in displacement of LPTV/translator stations making those 
stations eligible to file applications in the Special Displacement 
Window. Accordingly, we seek comment on whether the REA's requirement 
that we reimburse costs reasonably incurred ``as a result of the 
reorganization of broadcast television spectrum'' extends to include 
costs

[[Page 43620]]

incurred by LPTV/translator stations that were displaced solely due to 
modifications made by full power and Class A facilities as a result of 
receiving authorizations through these two filing windows.
    40. We tentatively conclude that the equipment and other costs 
necessary for an eligible LPTV/translator station to construct the 
facilities authorized by grant of the station's Special Displacement 
Window application shall be considered costs ``reasonably incurred,'' 
and seek comment on this tentative conclusion. This approach is similar 
to the reimbursement program used for full power and Class A stations 
with the following distinction. In implementing the Spectrum Act's 
reimbursement provisions for full power and Class A stations reassigned 
to new channels, the Commission concluded that the Act required that it 
reimburse costs ``that are reasonable to provide facilities comparable 
to those that a broadcaster . . . had prior to the auction that are 
reasonably replaced or modified following the auction, as a result of 
the repacking process, in order to allow the broadcaster to operate on 
a new channel . . . .'' This included reimbursement ``for modification 
or replacement of facilities on the post-auction channel consistent 
with the technical parameters identified in the Channel Reassignment 
PN.'' The Spectrum Act required that the Commission make ``all 
reasonable efforts'' in the repacking process to preserve coverage area 
and population served of full power and Class A stations. Thus, the 
post-auction channel reassignments specified in the Closing and Channel 
Reassignment PN were made at stations' existing locations and largely 
replicated stations' pre-auction facilities.
    41. We do not believe that a similar ``comparable'' facilities 
reimbursement standard can, as a technical matter, be applied to 
displaced LPTV/translator stations. Displaced LPTV/translator stations, 
unlike full power and Class A stations, may need to move their 
transmitter and antenna locations in addition to changing channels. In 
order to continue to provide service to viewers from the new site, 
stations may need to increase their effective radiated power and 
height, which may require the purchase of transmitters, transmission 
lines, and other equipment that is not ``comparable'' to their existing 
equipment. Therefore, we tentatively conclude that the equipment and 
other costs necessary for an eligible LPTV/translator station to 
construct the facilities authorized by grant of the station's Special 
Displacement Window application shall be considered ``reasonably 
incurred,'' consistent with other reimbursement procedures and 
processes we propose herein (such as requiring broadcasters to reuse 
equipment and take other steps to mitigate costs where possible). We 
propose to permit LPTV/translators to be reimbursed for both ``hard'' 
expenses, such as new equipment and tower rigging, and ``soft'' 
expenses, such as legal and engineering services, but, as discussed 
below, propose to direct the Media Bureau to prioritize, if necessary, 
the payment of certain hard costs necessary to operate the stations 
over soft costs to assure that such costs are recoverable to the extent 
possible under a limited fund. We seek comment on these tentative 
conclusions and on any alternative reimbursement approaches for 
eligible LPTV/translator stations. For example, should we permit as 
costs ``reasonably incurred'' those costs necessary to provide 
replacement facilities of comparable coverage? When reimbursing low-
power broadcasters for equipment, to what extent could the Commission 
reimburse the costs for full service mask filters that could promote 
spectrum efficiency, even if the station technically could operate at 
its new location with a stringent or simple mask? Should such equipment 
be considered a ``reasonably incurred'' expense that is related to the 
repack because it would promote greater use of the television band or 
should it be considered an upgrade that is not eligible for 
reimbursement?
    42. The REA limits reimbursement for LPTV/translators to ``costs . 
. . incurred . . . on or after January 1, 2017.'' We propose to 
interpret this provision to require that an LPTV/translator station 
have either expended funds or ordered equipment or services for a cost 
otherwise eligible for reimbursement on or after that date in order to 
be eligible for reimbursement pursuant to the REA. We invite comment on 
this proposal.
b. Equipment Upgrades and Reuse of Existing Equipment
    43. In implementing the Spectrum Act's reimbursement provisions, 
the Commission concluded that it would not reimburse stations for new, 
optional features in equipment that are not already present in the 
equipment being replaced, and we propose to apply this same approach to 
eligible LPTV/translator stations. In addition, the Commission required 
full power and Class A stations seeking reimbursement to reuse their 
own equipment to the extent possible, rather than acquiring new 
equipment to be paid for from the Reimbursement Fund, and to ``provide 
a justification when submitting their estimated cost form as to why it 
is reasonable under the circumstances to purchase new equipment rather 
than modify their . . . current equipment. . . .'' We propose to adopt 
a similar requirement that displaced LPTV/translator stations reuse 
their own equipment to the extent possible, and that displaced LPTV/
translator stations seeking reimbursement provide a justification why 
it is reasonable to purchase new equipment rather than reuse existing 
equipment. We seek comment on these proposals.
c. Interim Facilities
    44. We propose to exclude ``interim facilities'' from the type of 
expenses eligible for reimbursement under the REA. In the Incentive 
Auction R&O, the Commission concluded that stations that are assigned a 
new channel in the incentive auction repacking process may need to use 
interim facilities to avoid prolonged periods off the air during the 
transition, and, thus, the Commission decided to reimburse full power 
and Class A stations for such facilities under the Spectrum Act 
reimbursement provisions. Because of their lower operating power and 
the fact that the engineering work that is involved in changing 
channels is more limited than for full power television stations, we 
believe it is unlikely that LPTV/translator stations will construct 
interim facilities as part of the displacement process. Furthermore, 
LPTV/translators are actually displaced at a time determined either by 
the receipt of a notice from a wireless carrier that the wireless 
carrier intends to commence operations in the new 600 MHz wireless band 
or the phase completion date for a full power or Class A station 
pursuant to the transition schedule. Because LPTV/translators will have 
less time to construct interim facilities as a practical matter due to 
the timing of their actual displacement, interim facilities are 
unlikely to be utilized by such stations. We believe this proposal will 
also maximize the limited reimbursement funds available for all 
eligible LPTV/translator stations and seek comment on this analysis.
d. Lost Revenues
    45. The REA, like the 2012 Spectrum Act, prohibits reimbursement of 
LPTV/translator stations for ``lost revenues.'' In the Incentive 
Auction R&O, the Commission defined ``lost revenues'' to include 
``revenues that a station . . . loses as a direct or ancillary result 
of the reverse auction or the repacking process.'' We propose to adopt 
a similar definition of ``lost revenues'' for

[[Page 43621]]

purposes of reimbursing LPTV/translator stations: ``revenues that a 
station loses as a direct or ancillary result of the reorganization of 
broadcast television spectrum, including the repacking process and the 
reallocation of UHF spectrum in conjunction with the incentive 
auction.'' Under this definition and consistent with the Commission's 
approach in connection with reimbursing full power and Class A 
stations, we would not reimburse a station's loss of advertising 
revenues while it is off the air during its displacement, or for 
refunds a station is required to make for payments for airtime as a 
result of being off the air in order to implement a channel change. We 
seek comment on our proposal and on whether there are other additional 
categories of costs that LPTV/translator stations may incur that would 
constitute ``lost revenues'' not eligible for reimbursement under the 
REA.
e. Costs To Resolve Mutually Exclusive Applications
    46. The REA provides that ``[t]he Commission may not make 
reimbursement . . . for costs incurred to resolve mutually exclusive 
applications, including costs incurred in any auction of available 
channels.'' Applications filed during the Special Displacement Window 
that remain mutually exclusive will be resolved through competitive 
bidding. We interpret the prohibition against reimbursing for ``costs 
incurred in any auction'' to mean that the Commission may not reimburse 
LPTV/translator station auction bidders under the REA for the costs 
related to filing an auction application associated with a competitive 
bidding process, participating in such an auction, and winning bid 
payments. We seek comment on this interpretation. We also tentatively 
conclude that costs associated with the Settlement Window to resolve 
mutual exclusivity will not be reimbursed under the REA. Thus, we 
propose not to reimburse stations for costs in resolving mutual 
exclusivity, including engineering studies and preparing application 
amendments, or the payment of other stations' expenses as part of a 
settlement. However, we propose to reimburse for costs reasonably 
incurred in constructing the facilities resulting from settlement and 
coordination between mutually exclusive applicants. We seek comment on 
these proposals.
f. Stations With Other Sources of Funding
    47. We seek comment on whether stations that receive or have 
received reimbursement of certain expenses from sources of funding 
other than the Reimbursement Fund should receive reimbursement for 
those expenses from the Reimbursement Fund. As an initial matter, we 
note that Section 511(k)(3)(A) specifies that Class A stations that 
receive reimbursement from ``any other source'' may not receive 
reimbursement under the REA. While the REA does not set forth the same 
requirement for LPTV stations generally, we seek comment on whether a 
similar prohibition should extend to LPTV stations because a cost that 
is reimbursed by another source of funding is not a ``cost . . . 
incurred'' by the station under Section 511(k)(1). For example, we seek 
comment on whether displaced LPTV/translator stations that have 
received reimbursement from T-Mobile for a particular expense should 
receive reimbursement for that expense pursuant to Section 511(k)(1). 
As mentioned above, T-Mobile, which holds a number of 600 MHz licenses, 
began deploying its spectrum in 2017, thereby displacing a number of 
LPTV/translator stations before the Special Displacement Window opened 
on April 10, 2018. With respect to these displaced stations that began 
operating a displacement facility pursuant to an STA, T-Mobile has 
established a Supplemental Reimbursement Program, to be administered by 
T-Mobile. According to T-Mobile, it will reimburse eligible licensees 
``for the costs that they reasonably incur to comply with the permanent 
channel assignments that they may receive under the Special 
Displacement Window to the extent those channel assignments differ from 
the channel assignment these licensees may build following displacement 
from the 600 MHz band due to T-Mobile's rapid broadband deployment.'' 
Similarly, T-Mobile has reportedly awarded a grant to PBS to ``provide 
funding to enable public television translators . . . to move to new 
displacement channels regardless of the reason for displacement.'' We 
seek comment on how to address the interplay between the expanded 
Reimbursement Fund and such pre-REA funding for LPTV relocation.
    48. We also seek comment on whether a displaced LPTV/translator 
station that has received a state governmental grant to construct its 
displacement facility should be eligible for reimbursement under the 
REA. Similarly, we seek comment on whether the licensee of a displaced 
station that has solicited and received donations to construct its 
displacement facility should be eligible for reimbursement from the 
REA.
    49. Finally, we seek comment on whether displaced LPTV/translator 
stations should be required to indicate on their reimbursement 
submissions whether they have received or expect to receive 
reimbursement from another source as part of the reimbursement process. 
If so, should they provide documentation of the amount that they have 
received or expect to receive and the associated eligible expenses 
covered by that alternate reimbursement? We seek comment on whether 
stations that are eligible to receive reimbursement from other sources 
for certain expenses (e.g., insurance) should be required to pursue 
those alternative sources before requesting reimbursement for those 
expenses pursuant to the REA, and on the type of documentation such 
stations should be required to provide.

C. FM Broadcast Stations--Eligibility and Expenses

    50. As mentioned above, in the REA, Congress allocated funds for 
the purpose of reimbursing costs ``reasonably incurred by an FM 
broadcast station for facilities necessary for such station to 
reasonably minimize disruption of service as a result of the 
reorganization of broadcast television spectrum.'' In this section, we 
seek comment on issues related to eligibility and expenses under the 
REA provisions for reimbursement of FM stations.
1. Stations Eligible for Reimbursement
a. FM Broadcast Stations and FM Translator Stations
    51. Congress defined ``FM broadcast stations'' in the REA by 
referencing Sec. Sec.  73.310 and 74.1201 of the Commission's rules. 
Section 73.310 defines an FM broadcast station as ``[a] station 
employing frequency modulation in the FM broadcast band and licensed 
primarily for the transmission of radiotelephone emissions intended to 
be received by the general public.'' Additionally, Sec.  74.1201 
defines an FM translator as ``[a] station in the broadcasting service 
operated for the purpose of retransmitting the signals of an AM or FM 
radio broadcast station or another FM broadcast translator station 
without significantly altering any characteristics of the incoming 
signal other than its frequency and amplitude, in order to provide 
radio broadcast service to the general public.'' Given these 
references, we tentatively conclude that ``FM broadcast station'' as 
used in the REA includes full-service FM stations and FM translator 
stations. We seek comment on this tentative conclusion. Further, 
although low-power FM (LPFM) stations were not specifically referenced 
in the REA, we note that

[[Page 43622]]

such stations meet the criteria for ``FM broadcast station'' set forth 
in Sec.  73.310 of the rules and they are licensed under Part 73 of the 
rules like full-service FM stations. We therefore seek comment on 
whether LPFM stations should also be considered ``FM broadcast 
stations'' for reimbursement purposes.
b. Licensed and Transmitting at Time of Repack
    52. We tentatively conclude that to be eligible for reimbursement 
under the REA, an FM station must have been licensed and transmitting 
on April 13, 2017, and using facilities impacted by a repacked 
television station. We also tentatively conclude that only those costs 
associated with the impact at that location will be considered 
eligible. The REA seeks to reimburse costs ``reasonably incurred'' by 
FM stations to ``reasonably minimize disruption of service'' as a 
result of the reorganization of broadcast television spectrum, but 
provides no other additional specificity as to the eligibility of FM 
stations for reimbursement. We believe it is both necessary and 
appropriate to impose some reasonable standards on the eligibility of 
FM stations to be reimbursed from the Reimbursement Fund. We 
tentatively conclude that we should place the same limitation on FM 
stations that is applied to LPTV/translator stations. That is, we first 
propose a cut-off date of April 13, 2017, by which the FM station had 
to be licensed and transmitting. We choose this date because it is the 
date on which reverse auction winners and the television stations 
subject to the repack were identified in the Closing and Channel 
Reassignment PN. Thus, we tentatively conclude that any FM station that 
began operating on a facility or at a location impacted by a repacked 
television station after that date voluntarily assumed the risk of any 
potential disruption of service to the FM station. We tentatively 
conclude that any costs incurred by FM stations that undertook such a 
risk are not ``reasonably incurred'' under the statutory standard and 
thus are not eligible for reimbursement pursuant to the REA. We propose 
that FM stations will be required to certify that they were licensed 
and transmitting at the facility implicated by the reorganization of 
broadcast television spectrum on April 13, 2017, and seek comment on 
this proposal. The REA requires reimbursement ``to reasonably minimize 
disruption of service as a result of the reorganization of broadcast 
television spectrum under [47 U.S.C. 1452(b)].'' As an initial matter, 
we tentatively conclude that an FM station can experience a service 
disruption ``as a result of the reorganization of broadcast television 
spectrum under [47 U.S.C. 1452(b)]'' either because a full power or 
Class A television station has been reassigned to a new channel in the 
Closing and Channel Reassignment PN or because a full power or Class A 
television station relinquished spectrum usage rights in the reverse 
auction. In either case, the full power or Class A television station 
may need to modify its facilities (e.g., dismantling equipment in the 
case of a license relinquishment station) that may impact the FM 
station. We read the statutory language to require a causal link 
between the facilities being reimbursed and the activities associated 
with the repacked full power or Class A television station, and 
likewise interpret this provision to mean that only the FM broadcast 
facilities directly impacted by the repacked television station are 
eligible for reimbursement. We believe our interpretation of this REA 
language is consistent with Congress's provision of limited funds for 
FM facility reimbursement. We invite comment on this interpretation of 
the REA. We also seek comment on whether the REA's requirement that we 
reimburse costs incurred by FM stations to ``reasonably minimize 
disruption of service as a result of the reorganization of broadcast 
television spectrum under [47 U.S.C. 1452(b)]'' extends to include 
costs that were incurred by FM stations solely due to modifications 
made by full power and Class A facilities as a result of receiving 
authorizations through the two alternate channel/expanded facilities 
filing windows.
c. Categories of Eligible FM Stations
    53. In addition, we believe it is both necessary and appropriate to 
impose eligibility requirements for FM stations that define the way an 
FM station could ``reasonably incur'' costs as the result of a 
``disruption of service'' caused by ``the reorganization of broadcast 
television spectrum'' as required by the REA. We believe a large 
majority of FM stations will not incur any costs or encounter any 
disruption of service as a result of the reorganization of broadcast 
television spectrum. However, in limited circumstances, as defined 
herein, some FM stations may be affected because they are collocated 
with, or adjacent, or in close proximity to, a repacked television 
station such that construction work on the repacked television 
station's facility necessarily results in a disruption of service to 
the FM station and requires the FM station to incur costs. Accordingly, 
we tentatively conclude that only stations that are collocated with, or 
adjacent, or in close proximity to, a repacked television station are 
eligible for reimbursement and that the FM station will be required to 
certify to that fact and identify the television station. We seek 
comment on these conclusions. We believe that only stations in the 
following categories will encounter any disruption of service as a 
result of the reorganization of broadcast television spectrum such that 
they would be eligible for reimbursement under the REA:
     Category (1)--Stations Forced to Relocate Permanently. We 
propose that this eligibility category include FM stations required 
either to vacate their towers, and which therefore incur costs for 
alternative facilities at a different site, or to relocate their 
antennas to a different level of their current towers. Either change 
would modify the station's transmissions and would thus require prior 
Commission approval. We anticipate that there will be a very small 
number of FM stations if any in this eligibility category.
     Category (2)--Stations Forced to Temporarily Dismantle 
Equipment or Make Other Changes Not Requiring Commission Approval. We 
propose that this eligibility category include FM stations required 
temporarily to dismount or disassemble equipment, most likely antennas, 
in order to accommodate work on a television antenna or a tower. We 
propose that this category also include FM stations required to 
physically move their transmitter to accommodate new television 
transmission equipment. While such an equipment move may not be 
temporary, it is not the kind of facility modification that would 
change the station's transmissions, and thus would not require 
Commission approval. We propose this category also include other types 
of necessary equipment modifications that do not require Commission 
approval. We anticipate there will be a very small number of FM 
stations in this eligibility category.
     Category (3)--Stations Forced to Temporarily Reduce Power 
or Cease Transmission on Their Primary Facility to Accommodate Antenna 
or Tower Modifications. We propose that this eligibility category would 
include those FM stations that are required to reduce power or go off 
the air to protect workers making modifications to television 
facilities on a tower from RF exposure. The length of time during which 
a station would have to reduce power or cease transmissions could range 
from hours to weeks or even months. Such stations could incur costs

[[Page 43623]]

to build or modify auxiliary facilities to permit FM broadcast service 
to continue during this period. Category (3) would include stations 
with no existing auxiliary facilities and stations that are unable to 
access auxiliary transmission facilities. Category (3) would also 
include stations that have existing auxiliary facilities, but whose 
facilities do not provide substantial (80+ percent) coverage of the 
primary station's coverage area or population. FM stations in other 
eligibility categories could also qualify as Category (3) stations if 
they otherwise meet the reimbursement requirements. We anticipate that 
this category of stations will be the most numerous of eligible FM 
stations but is still likely to include only a limited number of FM 
stations.
    54. We believe that reimbursing FM stations for the types of 
service disruptions described in these categories is consistent with 
our statutory mandate to reimburse FM stations for ``costs . . . for 
facilities necessary for such station to reasonably minimize disruption 
of service as a result of the reorganization of broadcast television 
spectrum,'' and we seek comment on our interpretation. We invite 
comment on the scope of our categories above and ask commenters 
specifically to explain whether there are additional categories of 
service disruption that should be reimbursed. We tentatively conclude 
that FM stations would be required to certify which eligibility 
category they satisfy, and we seek comment on that conclusion.
    55. Section 511(l)(1)(C) specifies that an FM broadcast station 
that has received payment for ``interim facilities'' from either a 
station that was reimbursed under the Spectrum Act or ``from any other 
source'' may not receive ``any reimbursements'' under the REA. Thus, as 
required by the statutory language, we propose that if an FM broadcast 
station has received such payment for ``interim facilities,'' it is 
ineligible for any reimbursement under the REA. We tentatively conclude 
that FM stations would be required to certify whether they have 
received payment for such interim facilities.
2. Expenses Eligible for Reimbursement
    56. The REA states that the Commission shall provide reimbursement 
for ``costs reasonably incurred by an FM broadcast station for 
facilities necessary for such station to reasonably minimize disruption 
of service as a result of the reorganization of broadcast television 
spectrum.'' We note that the statute does not require reimbursement of 
costs to ensure there is no disruption of service at all. We 
tentatively conclude that some level of disruption of service to 
eligible FM stations is reasonable, and we do not propose to reimburse 
costs incurred to avoid reasonable disruptions. We also believe that 
the public interest requires that we seek to maximize the limited funds 
available for all facilities to address the most significant service 
disruptions to ensure that the most needed facilities are fully funded. 
We seek comment below on how to define what costs are ``reasonably 
incurred'' and on how to interpret the phrase ``to reasonably minimize 
disruption of service'' as contemplated by the REA, and we propose an 
approach for prioritization of reimbursement to stations with a greater 
level of service disruption to preserve limited funds.
a. Costs Reasonably Incurred
    57. As described below, we propose that eligible costs for Category 
(1) and Category (2) stations are similar to eligible costs for full 
power and Class A stations in the repack and therefore should be 
reimbursed in a similar manner. We propose, however, that the cost for 
Category (3) stations should be subject to a graduated priority system 
and reimbursable only when the disruption of service is significant 
enough to make it reasonable for a station to incur costs to minimize 
the disruption, and then on a scale that balances the level of the 
service disruption with the need to maximize the finite funds and 
ensure the most significantly impacted facilities are fully funded. We 
seek comment on these proposals as detailed below.
(i) Replacing or Restoring Facilities--Category (1) and (2) Stations
    58. The existing reimbursement program for full power and Class A 
stations seeks to reimburse costs reasonably incurred for stations to 
move their facilities to a new channel that was assigned as a result of 
the incentive auction repacking process using reasonable efforts to 
preserve each station's coverage area and population served. We believe 
it is in the public interest to develop a similar standard for the 
reimbursement of costs associated with Category (1) stations because 
the nature of the displacement of the FM station and the types of costs 
incurred are similar. We seek comment on these conclusions. We believe 
the goal for Category (1) stations should be to rebuild their facility 
to reasonably replicate the station's coverage area and population 
served, similar to the standard applicable to full power and Class A 
stations. Further, we believe that Category (1) stations should be 
eligible for reimbursement for costs similar to full power and Class A 
stations to move and reconstruct the current facilities at a new site 
or tower location, including costs of equipment, professional services 
such as engineering, and tower and construction work. We believe that 
such stations are likely to experience the most significant disruption 
of service of all FM stations because they will be required to entirely 
or partially dismantle and reconstruct their facilities. As a result, 
if sufficient funds allocated to reimburse FM stations exist in the 
Reimbursement Fund, we believe that Category (1) stations should be 
reimbursed for up to 100 percent of eligible costs similar to the 
reimbursements provided to impacted full power and Class A stations. As 
noted above, we believe only a very small number of stations are likely 
to be included in this category and therefore we do not believe the 
reimbursement of these stations is likely to be a primary resource 
demand on the Reimbursement Fund. We seek comment on these conclusions.
    59. Examples of reimbursable equipment costs that we believe could 
be reasonably incurred include transmitters, antennas, coaxial cable or 
wave guides, and associated equipment needed to reasonably replicate 
the service being lost. We propose that existing equipment should be 
reused as appropriate. To the extent that existing equipment cannot be 
reused, we propose that new equipment may be reimbursable if needed to 
reasonably replicate service and coverage area. We propose that the 
costs of engineering to determine what technical facilities are needed 
to replace existing service at a new site should be considered 
reimbursable expenses, as well as transportation costs of physically 
moving equipment to a new site or new location on a tower and any 
engineering costs associated with the move. We seek comment on these 
proposals.
    60. We believe it is also in the public interest to develop a 
similar standard for eligible expenses for reimbursement of Category 
(2) stations because the types of costs incurred are also similar. We 
seek comment on these conclusions. We believe the goal for Category (2) 
stations should be to restore the station's existing facility. For 
example, Category (2) stations could reasonably incur costs that are 
related to their need to temporarily dismantle equipment or modify 
their physical facilities. Examples of reimbursable costs could include 
costs of equipment, professional services such as engineering, and 
tower and construction work, similar to the

[[Page 43624]]

costs incurred by full power and Class A stations. Additionally, 
similar to Category (1), the service disruptions associated with these 
costs are likely to be significant in magnitude, but the number of 
stations incurring such costs is likely to be very small and not the 
most significant drain on the Reimbursement Fund. Therefore, we propose 
that, if sufficient funds allocated to reimburse FM stations exist in 
the Reimbursement Fund, Category (2) stations should be reimbursed for 
up to 100 percent of eligible costs similar to full power and Class A 
stations. We seek comment on this proposal.
(ii) Interim Facilities--Category (3) Stations
    61. In the full power and Class A reimbursement program, the costs 
of interim facilities are reimbursed in the same manner as other costs 
incurred for a station to change channels. With respect to the types of 
costs that would qualify for reimbursement as interim facilities, we 
seek to apply the same approach to FM stations. We propose that 
Category (3) stations be reimbursed for the cost of constructing new 
auxiliary facilities or upgrading existing auxiliary facilities. This 
would permit FM stations to continue broadcasting while their primary 
facilities are off the air due to the need to protect tower personnel 
working on modifications related to the reorganization of broadcast 
television spectrum. Reimbursable costs could include costs of 
equipment, professional services such as engineering, and tower and 
construction work.
    62. As described in more detail below, we tentatively conclude that 
reimbursement of interim facility costs should be linked to the level 
of service disruption avoided by resorting to interim facilities, and 
therefore propose to reimburse on a graduated priority system 
reflecting a percentage of total costs for these interim facilities. We 
further tentatively conclude that it is not unreasonable for there to 
be some temporary disruption of service to permit construction work or 
maintenance on a collocated, adjacent, or nearby station. FM stations 
regularly power down or remain silent for temporary periods to 
accommodate tower or antenna work and transmitter maintenance, and we 
conclude from this fact that such actions are ordinary and reasonable 
occurrences. We therefore believe that it is appropriate to reimburse 
costs for interim facilities only if they are needed to avoid service 
interruptions that would otherwise exceed ordinary construction or 
maintenance requirements. Furthermore, operating from interim 
facilities does not require service that is identical to the station's 
primary service. We believe this different approach is justified by the 
different standard enunciated in the REA, requiring us to consider what 
expenses ``reasonably minimize'' disruption of service rather than the 
Spectrum Act's mandate to reimburse expenses resulting from a channel 
change. Furthermore, we anticipate that the majority of reimbursement 
requests from FM stations will be in Category (3), and that they will 
account for the majority of the demand by FM stations for resources 
from the Reimbursement Fund. Thus, we tentatively conclude that a 
graduated scale is in the public interest because it properly reflects 
the level of service disruption, which could vary from hours to weeks 
or even months, and therefore balances our need to preserve finite 
funds for the most significant instances of service disruption. Under 
this proposal, reimbursement percentages in excess of those proposed 
below might be available if, after making all the payments for interim 
facilities and other eligible expenses, there is sufficient money to 
pay a higher reimbursement percentage to FM stations in the 
Reimbursement Fund. We seek comment on these proposals herein.
    63. We believe that the amount of broadcaster reimbursement for 
interim facilities should be linked to the amount of time the FM 
station is off the air due to the reorganization of broadcast 
television spectrum. These time periods will likely range from hours 
to, in extreme and hopefully rare cases, months. Additionally, we 
believe that the times of day during which stations are off the air 
should also play a part in our calculus. Some stations may be subject 
to limited service disruptions, for instance, if tower work or work on 
co-tenant antennas is limited to nighttime hours which would minimize 
broadcast time lost during peak listening hours. Such stations will not 
be as adversely affected as those required to reduce power or go off-
air for extended periods of time. As to the latter group of affected 
stations, we find that the reimbursement for interim facilities should 
be greater the longer they are required to be off the air. The longer 
the lost airtime, the more service disruption and, thus, the greater 
justification for reimbursement for the construction of permanent 
auxiliary facilities.
    64. Further, we note that transmissions from interim facilities 
would not exactly replicate the areas or populations covered from the 
licensed transmitter site. Thus, we propose that 80 percent of an FM 
station's coverage area or covered population should be replicated by 
the interim facility in order to constitute reasonably minimal 
disruption of service. In another context, when a rule requires 
provision of a certain strength signal to an entire community, the 
Commission has held that when a station provides that signal strength 
to 80 percent or more of either the area or the population of the 
community, such a signal may be considered to be in substantial 
compliance with the rule. We believe this 80 percent standard is an 
acceptable yardstick for measuring interim FM service, especially given 
that near-exact replication of a station's coverage area from an 
alternative site, in many if not most cases, may not be achieved 
without significant expense. Accordingly, we propose that FM signal 
coverage of either 80 percent of the area or 80 percent of the 
population covered by an FM station at its licensed site be considered 
to be substantial interim coverage and, thus, tentatively conclude it 
would meet the REA standard of reasonably minimizing disruption of 
service. We invite comment on this proposal, including comment on the 
costs of requiring a greater or lesser level of interim service.
    65. We seek comment on the need to develop a prioritization scheme 
for reimbursement of FM broadcast stations under either statutory 
interpretation of the amounts available to reimburse such stations. We 
seek comment on the following graduated priority system of 
reimbursement for interim facilities constructed to minimize service 
disruptions to FM broadcast stations forced to go off-air due to the 
reorganization of broadcast television spectrum. We note that 
additional percentages for reimbursement might be available if, after 
making all the payments for interim facilities and other eligible 
expenses, there is sufficient money to pay a higher reimbursement 
percentage to FM stations in the Reimbursement Fund. If adopted, we 
propose to direct the Media Bureau to determine whether and what higher 
percentage of funds should be paid to Category (3) stations.
     Stations Off-Air for Less Than 24 Hours, or Off-Air Only 
During Hours from 10:00 p.m.-6:00 a.m. Local Time or Less Than Five 
Non-Peak Broadcast Hours Per Day: No reimbursement. We propose that 
such periods off-air be considered a de minimis disruption of service.
     Stations Off-Air for 24 Hours to 10 Days: May be 
reimbursed up to 50 percent of eligible costs reasonably

[[Page 43625]]

incurred to construct new auxiliary facilities, to upgrade existing 
auxiliary facilities to cover 80 percent of the covered area and/or 
population of the existing facility, or to build interim facilities for 
eligible secondary services.
     Stations Off-Air for 11 Days to 30 Days: May be reimbursed 
up to 75 percent of eligible costs reasonably incurred to construct new 
auxiliary facilities, to upgrade existing auxiliary facilities to cover 
80 percent of the covered area and/or population of the existing 
facility, or to build interim facilities for eligible secondary 
services.
     Stations Off-Air for More than 30 Days: May be reimbursed 
up to 100 percent of eligible costs reasonably incurred to construct 
new auxiliary facilities, to upgrade existing auxiliary facilities to 
cover 80 percent of the covered area and/or population of the existing 
facility, or to build interim facilities for eligible secondary 
services.
    66. We seek comment on these issues and on whether reimbursing FM 
stations on a graduated scale is in the public interest. In particular, 
we seek comment on whether failing to pro-rate the amount of 
reimbursement for interim facilities might reduce reimbursement for all 
affected FM stations, given the total amount of money available to FM 
stations for reimbursements. We also request comment on the time off-
air benchmarks set forth in paragraph 65, and whether they should be 
adjusted up or down. In particular, we seek comment on whether time 
off-air during nighttime and early morning hours should be considered 
de minimis and, if not, what level of reimbursement for auxiliary 
facilities should be allowed for such stations to provide interim 
nighttime service. If commenters disagree with the proposed 
reimbursement scheme, what alternative proposals do they recommend to 
ensure we allocate the limited funds fairly and equitably across all FM 
stations?
    67. We acknowledge that the graduated scale could be subject to 
manipulation where the construction project is prolonged in order to 
reach a number of days that correlates to a higher reimbursement 
percentage. We believe that this concern is mitigated by the fact that 
the FM station will ordinarily not be in control of the repacked 
television station's construction project, and that a repacked 
television station is unlikely to prolong for the benefit of the FM 
station the time period that it employs vendors and service providers 
to perform construction. Nevertheless, in order to minimize the 
potential for gaming the system, we seek comment on whether to pay 
reimbursement for interim stations only after the period of time has 
expired and the number of days can be and is certified by the station. 
We also seek comment on whether to require certification by the FM 
station concerning the number of days the station could not broadcast 
from its primary facility due to construction work of a repacked 
television station. As noted herein, we intend to conduct audits, data 
validations, and site visits, as appropriate, to prevent waste, fraud, 
and abuse. As part of that process, we could require a repacked 
television station to provide, upon request, a statement or other 
information regarding the dates that work was being done that impacted 
the FM station. We seek comment on these issues and on additional ways 
we can minimize this potential problem.
    68. To the extent that a Category (3) station is required to lease 
tower space for a new auxiliary facility, we propose to allow 
reimbursement only for those lease payments covering the period of time 
during which the primary station is off the air due to the 
reorganization of broadcast television spectrum. In other words, we 
will not reimburse for tower lease payments except during the period 
when the repacked television station's construction work is actively 
preventing the FM station from broadcasting from its primary facility 
and not for any period of time thereafter. We request comment on this 
proposal.
b. Channel Change Equipment
    69. We expect that no FM broadcast station will be forced to change 
its frequency as a result of the reorganization of broadcast television 
spectrum and, thus, we tentatively conclude that expenses for retuning 
or replacing antennas or transmitters to accommodate channel changes 
will not be eligible for reimbursement. We seek comment on this 
expectation.
c. Equipment Upgrades and Reuse of Existing Equipment
    70. As noted above, full power and Class A stations can be 
reimbursed only for comparable facilities, while we propose that LPTV/
translators may in certain cases require modified facilities due to the 
fact that LPTV/translators may need to change locations and not just 
channels. Similarly, we tentatively conclude that the full power and 
Class A comparable facilities reimbursement standard cannot be applied 
in the same manner to FM stations in Categories (1) and (2) because the 
goal is to reasonably replicate the service type and area from a 
different location (Category (1)) or restore service using alternate 
equipment (Category (2)). In some cases, this can be accomplished using 
existing equipment or its equivalent, but in other cases this will 
require modified or differently configured equipment. For instance, a 
move of an FM station's antenna to a lower spot on the same tower 
could, in order to replicate the station's existing signal contours, 
require replacement equipment with an increase in ERP, either by using 
a transmitter with higher power output or an antenna with higher gain. 
In the (we expect rare) cases in which a station is forced to move to 
another tower, reasonably replicating current service might involve 
both of those options and/or design and construction of an antenna with 
a directional pattern, in order to avoid prohibited interference to 
other FM stations.
    71. To the extent that a Category (1) station would propose to 
construct a new tower, we propose to reimburse tower construction 
expenses only upon a showing that no space is available on other local 
towers that would enable it to reasonably replicate current service. 
Even if it were able to make such a showing, we seek comment on whether 
and how we should discount any reimbursement for tower construction 
costs, given that such ``vertical real estate'' carries with it the 
potential for revenue generation for the FM station, perhaps in 
substantial amounts. We seek comment on this proposal.
    72. Similar to our tentative conclusion above concerning LPTV/
translators, we also propose that we will follow the Commission's 
determination in the existing reimbursement program and not reimburse 
stations for new, optional features in equipment that are not already 
present in the equipment being replaced. For example, we would not 
reimburse an analog-only FM station to add hybrid digital capability. A 
station that contemplates a rule-compliant modification to a higher 
station class or to an expanded service area as part of a required move 
may do so, but we propose to limit reimbursement only to costs needed 
to return the station to its original service area. We seek comment on 
these proposals. While the REA contains a provision precluding 
duplicative payments relating only to ``interim facilities,'' we 
tentatively conclude that FM broadcast stations that receive or have 
received reimbursement of expenses from sources of funding other than 
the Reimbursement Fund, such as co-located television stations and/or 
tower owners providing reimbursement under contractual provisions, will 
not receive reimbursement for those expenses from

[[Page 43626]]

the Reimbursement Fund. We tentatively conclude that a cost that is 
reimbursed by another source of funding is not a ``cost . . . 
incurred'' by the FM broadcast station under Section 511(l)(1)(A). We 
seek comment on this tentative conclusion.
    73. In addition, the Commission required full power and Class A 
stations seeking reimbursement to reuse their own equipment to the 
extent possible, rather than acquiring new equipment to be paid for 
from the Reimbursement Fund, and to ``provide a justification when 
submitting their estimated cost form as to why it is reasonable under 
the circumstances to purchase new equipment rather than modify their . 
. . current equipment . . .'' We propose to adopt a similar requirement 
that FM stations reuse their own equipment, to the extent possible. As 
noted above, we expect that FM stations will not be required to change 
frequencies, so there should be no issues regarding channel-related 
equipment modifications. Thus, we believe it is reasonable to require 
FM stations seeking reimbursement to provide a justification why it is 
reasonable to purchase new equipment rather than reuse existing 
equipment. We seek comment on this proposal.
d. Lost Revenues
    74. The REA, like the 2012 Spectrum Act, prohibits reimbursement of 
FM broadcast stations for ``lost revenues.'' In the Incentive Auction 
R&O, the Commission defined ``lost revenues'' to include ``revenues 
that a station . . . loses as a direct or ancillary result of the 
reverse auction or the repacking process.'' We propose to adopt a 
similar definition of ``lost revenues'' for purposes of reimbursing FM 
broadcast stations: ``revenues that a station loses as a direct or 
ancillary result of the reorganization of broadcast television 
spectrum, including the reverse auction and the repacking process.'' 
Under this definition, we would not reimburse a station's loss of 
advertising revenues while it is off the air implementing either 
replacement or interim facilities, or for refunds a station is required 
to make for payments for airtime as a result of being off the air in 
order to implement such a facility change. We seek comment on our 
proposal and whether there are other additional categories of costs 
that FM stations may incur that would constitute ``lost revenues'' not 
eligible for reimbursement under the REA.

D. Reimbursement Process

    75. Our goal is to develop a reimbursement process for the newly 
eligible entities that is as simple and straightforward as possible to 
minimize both the costs associated with reimbursement as well as the 
burdens on affected parties and the Commission. At the same time, we 
are committed to a process that is fair and equitable to all eligible 
entities and that maximizes the funds available for reimbursement by 
avoiding waste, fraud, and abuse.
    76. As discussed below, we propose to reimburse eligible LPTV, TV 
translator, and FM broadcast stations using a procedure that is 
substantially similar to what is currently being used by the Commission 
to provide reimbursements to full power and Class A stations and MVPDs. 
We believe that using a process and resources that have proven 
effective is a reasonable approach as it should result in a smooth and 
expeditious reimbursement process for LPTV/translator and FM stations. 
At the same time, we propose to make certain adjustments and 
simplifications to this process as we describe below. We invite comment 
generally on whether and how the process might be further streamlined 
in light of the fact that the money available to reimburse LPTV/
translator and FM stations is less than that allocated to full power, 
Class A, and MVPD entities, individual entity expenses may also be 
expected to be smaller, and many of the stations seeking reimbursement 
may already have incurred the costs associated with the transition.
1. Eligibility Certification
    77. We propose to require LPTV/translator and FM stations that 
believe they meet the eligibility requirements and intend to request 
reimbursement for eligible expenses, to file a form (Eligibility 
Certification) indicating that they intend to request reimbursement 
funds. We seek comment on this proposal. We propose that entities be 
required to certify on the Eligibility Certification that they meet the 
eligibility criteria adopted in this proceeding and provide 
documentation or other evidence to support their certification. For 
example, LPTV/translator stations may be required to provide evidence 
to support their certification that they meet the minimum operating 
requirement adopted in this proceeding to be eligible for reimbursement 
under the REA. Such evidence could include evidence of the programming 
aired by the station during the period of time in question, as well as 
electric power bills, and we seek comment on other types of evidence 
that might be used to demonstrate that a station was transmitting 
during the relevant time period. Similarly, FM stations could be 
required to identify the repacked TV station that caused it to be 
eligible for reimbursement and to provide evidence to support its 
certification that it was off the air for a sufficient period of time 
to be eligible for reimbursement for interim facilities, and the period 
of time it was, or expects to be, silent. As stated previously, the 
Commission previously determined that, with respect to the incentive 
auction reimbursement program, ``audits, data validations, and site 
visits are essential tools in preventing waste, fraud, and abuse, and 
that use of these measures will maximize the amount of money available 
for reimbursement.'' With respect to reimbursing low-power broadcast 
stations, we contemplate that a third party firm on behalf of, or in 
conjunction with, the Media Bureau may conduct audits, data 
validations, site visits or other verifications to substantiate the 
supporting evidence and representations of entities that certify that 
they meet the eligibility criteria adopted in this proceeding to the 
extent necessary. We propose to direct such entities to make available 
any relevant documentation upon request from the Commission or its 
contractor. We emphasize that a false certification may result in 
disqualification and other sanctions provided for in the Communications 
Act and the Commission's rules. We invite comment on this approach and 
on possible other kinds of evidence and/or documentation the Media 
Bureau should require LPTV/translator and FM stations to submit to 
support their Eligibility Certifications.
2. Estimated Expenses
    78. We also propose to require LPTV/translator and FM stations to 
list on a revised Reimbursement Form their existing broadcasting 
equipment and the types of costs they expect to incur. In the full 
power and Class A program, the Media Bureau developed a list of the 
types of costs stations were most likely to incur together with a range 
of prices applicable to such expenses. This cost catalog is embedded in 
the Reimbursement Form used by full power and Class A stations. We 
intend to develop a revised cost catalog to help LPTV/translator and FM 
stations provide estimated costs. Alternatively, these stations, like 
full power and Class A stations, may choose instead to provide their 
own estimates or actual costs. As noted above, in the Incentive Auction 
R&O, the Commission required full power and Class A broadcasters and 
MVPDs eligible for reimbursement to file a form providing estimates of 
their channel relocation costs. We propose to adopt a consistent 
approach for entities

[[Page 43627]]

newly eligible for reimbursement. Specifically, similar to the current 
process used by full power and Class A stations and MVPDs using the 
Reimbursement Form, we propose that eligible LPTV/translator and FM 
stations submit a revised version of our existing Reimbursement Form 
that will contain a new cost catalog. The new cost catalog will offer 
ranges of prices for the potential expenses that can be used to 
generate total estimated costs. For example, LPTV/translator stations 
may be required to indicate whether they will need to purchase new 
equipment in order to operate on their new channel, or whether they can 
reuse some of their existing equipment. FM stations may be required to 
indicate whether they will need to move to a different tower or a 
different location on the same tower, and whether they will have to go 
silent or power down temporarily to move or to permit work on their 
existing tower as a result of changes being made to a repacked full 
power or Class A station.
    79. We note that some LPTV/translator and FM stations will already 
have incurred costs eligible for reimbursement by the time we adopt 
rules in this proceeding and begin accepting Eligibility Certifications 
and Reimbursement Forms. We propose to permit entities to indicate 
their actual costs instead of providing estimates on the Reimbursement 
Form for costs already incurred in their initial filings with the 
Commission. We seek comment on this proposal.
    80. We tentatively conclude that the Reimbursement Form for use by 
newly eligible entities should be simpler and easier to use than the 
forms used by full power and Class A stations and MVPDs. We seek 
comment on how we can modify the Form to make it simpler to use. We 
propose to consider methods by which the revised cost catalog could 
more readily determine a reasonable estimate for newly eligible 
stations than the current form used by full power and Class A stations. 
Are there other ways that a reasonable estimate of expenses can be more 
readily derived than under the current process? We tentatively conclude 
that an approach that would eliminate altogether the requirement to 
submit estimated expenses would not provide the Commission with 
information concerning the potential total demand on the Reimbursement 
Fund and other information necessary for the Media Bureau and Fund 
Administrator to make reasoned allocation decisions and determine 
whether reimbursement claims are reasonable, as required by the REA. To 
the extent, however, that parties disagree with our tentative 
conclusion, we seek comment on how a reimbursement process without the 
submission of estimates would work? Without estimates, how would the 
Media Bureau determine allocations that assure a fair and equitable 
distribution of the finite Reimbursement Fund? Supporters of a 
reimbursement process without estimated expenses should also address 
how such an approach is consistent with Section 511(m)(2) of the REA. 
We seek comment on our tentative conclusions.
3. Reimbursement Allocations
    81. We propose that, once the Media Bureau completes its review of 
the Eligibility Certifications and Reimbursement Forms, it will issue 
an initial allocation from the Reimbursement Fund to each eligible 
LPTV/translator and FM station, which will be available to the entity 
to draw down as expenses are incurred. In the context of the existing 
reimbursement process for full power and Class A stations, the Media 
Bureau exercised discretion to determine the appropriate allocation 
amount based on the circumstances and information available from 
submitted Reimbursement Forms. Consistent with this approach, as noted 
in the Order below, we direct the Media Bureau to make allocation 
decisions for stations eligible for reimbursement under the REA. The 
amount of the initial allocation, as well as the total amount allocated 
to each entity, will depend in part on the number of LPTV/translator 
stations and the number of FM stations that file an Eligibility 
Certification and the amount available for reimbursement for each type 
of entity. For example, the Media Bureau may give entities an 
allocation that is a percentage of their total costs eligible for 
reimbursement, similar to the approach we took for full power and Class 
A stations and MVPDs. Alternatively, it could allocate the same fixed 
amount to entities that must take similar steps as a result of, or are 
similarly affected by, the reorganization of broadcast television 
spectrum (i.e., a fixed amount to all FM stations that must be off the 
air for 11-30 days, and a different fixed amount to all FM stations 
that must be off the air for 24 hours to 10 days). We invite comment on 
each of these approaches.
    82. Subsequent Allocations. We propose that, after the initial 
allocation of reimbursement funds to eligible LPTV/translator and FM 
stations, the Media Bureau may issue one or more subsequent 
allocation(s). The timing and amount of these subsequent allocation(s) 
will depend in part on the funds remaining in the LPTV/translator and 
FM portions of the Reimbursement Fund, the eligible expenses entities 
have incurred, and the Commission's goal in terms of the percentage or 
total dollar amount of eligible costs we expect to be able to cover for 
each entity based on the steps they must take as a result of the 
reorganization of broadcast television spectrum. We seek comment 
generally on this proposed reimbursement process.
    83. Prioritization of Certain Costs. To the extent that the total 
amount of reimbursement funds available to LPTV/translators or FM 
stations may not be not sufficient to cover all eligible expenses at 
the end of the program, it may be necessary to establish a 
prioritization scheme for reimbursing eligible expenses. We propose to 
direct the Media Bureau to perform this prioritization, if necessary. 
In order to assist the Media Bureau, we seek comment on whether we 
should prioritize the payment of certain costs, such as certain 
equipment and engineering expenses, over other types of expenses, such 
as project management fees, for LPTV/translator and FM stations. For 
instance, project management fees have proven difficult for the Media 
Bureau and Fund Administrator to validate in the context of the ongoing 
reimbursement effort for full power and Class A stations and MVPDs. 
Given that the amount available for reimbursement for LPTV/translator 
and FM stations may not be sufficient to cover all eligible expenses 
incurred by these entities, we believe it may make sense to prioritize, 
at least initially, certain expenses to maximize the possibility that 
these costs are covered for all eligible entities. The Media Bureau 
could, for example, limit the initial allocation provided to LPTV/
translator stations to an amount necessary to cover the costs related 
to any necessary transmitter, transmission line, and antenna equipment, 
as well as engineering expenses necessary to locate a new channel. Any 
funds remaining in the LPTV/translator portion of the Reimbursement 
Fund after these expenses are covered could be distributed in a 
subsequent allocation. We seek comment generally on this approach. If 
we were to prioritize certain equipment and engineering costs, which 
such costs should be prioritized for LPTV/translator stations and which 
should be prioritized for FM stations?
4. Requests for Reimbursement
    84. Once the Commission has issued an initial allocation to each 
eligible LPTV/translator and FM station, we

[[Page 43628]]

propose to allow these entities to submit claim(s), together with any 
required supporting invoices and other cost documentation, for 
reimbursement for any eligible costs they have incurred, using a method 
consistent with the existing process. We propose that the Media Bureau, 
together with the Fund Administrator, will review each reimbursement 
claim and, if approved, authorize a draw down from the entity's 
individual allocation. We propose to allow entities to submit multiple 
reimbursement requests as they incur expenses throughout the 
reimbursement period. As noted above, we also propose to allow entities 
that have already incurred costs at the time they make their initial 
filings with the Commission to submit actual costs instead of 
estimates. We seek comment on these proposals.

E. Financial Forms and Procedures

    85. We propose to use revised versions of the financial forms 
currently being used by full power, Class A, and MVPD entities for 
purposes of reimbursing eligible LPTV/translator and FM stations. We 
also propose to use the same procedures to provide reimbursement 
payments to these newly eligible entities. These procedures were set 
forth in the Financial Procedures PN. We seek comment generally on this 
approach. Are there any procedures that we should alter for purposes of 
reimbursing these newly eligible entities?
    86. Specifically, we propose to require LPTV, TV translators, and 
FM stations to submit their Eligibility Certification, cost estimates, 
and subsequent requests for reimbursement for expenses they have 
incurred, together with any required supporting documentation, using 
the Reimbursement Form (FCC Form 2100, Schedule 399), which we plan to 
revise for this purpose. As required for full power and Class A 
stations and MVPDs, we propose that LPTV/translator and FM stations 
submit the Reimbursement Form electronically via the Commission's LMS 
database. We propose to require LPTV/translator and FM stations to use 
a procedure and form similar to our existing FCC Form 1876 and file 
electronically in the CORES Incentive Auction Financial Module. 
Entities will be able to track reimbursement payments using the Auction 
Payments component of the CORES Incentive Auction Financial Module.
    87. As discussed in the Order below, we direct the Media Bureau 
together with the Office of Managing Director to revise these 
reimbursement forms and procedures as necessary for use by LPTV/
translator and FM stations.

F. Measures To Prevent Waste, Fraud, and Abuse

    88. As with full power, Class A, and MVPD entities, we intend to 
establish strong measures to protect against waste, fraud, and abuse 
with respect to disbursements from the Reimbursement Fund for newly 
eligible entities. The Media Bureau, with assistance from the Fund 
Administrator, will review the information entities provide in their 
Eligibility Certification and may require additional information to 
validate whether the entity is, in fact, eligible for reimbursement 
pursuant to the criteria established in this proceeding. We propose to 
require entities to document their actual expenses, including by 
providing all relevant invoices and receipts, and to retain other 
relevant records substantiating their certifications and reimbursement 
claims. Similar to the existing requirement for full power, Class A, 
and MVPD entities, we also propose to require LPTV/translator and FM 
stations seeking reimbursement to retain all relevant documents 
pertaining to construction or other reimbursable changes or expenses 
for a period ending not less than 10 years after the date on which it 
receives final payment from the Reimbursement Fund. We invite comment 
on these proposals.
    89. We anticipate that the Reimbursement Form we develop for use by 
LPTV/translator and FM stations will contain certifications similar to 
those on the Reimbursement Form used by full power, Class A, and MVPD 
entities. Thus, an LPTV/translator or FM station seeking reimbursement 
will be required to certify, inter alia, that it believes in good faith 
that it will reasonably incur all of the estimated costs that it claims 
as eligible for reimbursement on the estimated cost form, it will use 
all money received from the Reimbursement Fund only for expenses it 
believes in good faith are eligible for reimbursement, and it will 
comply with all policies and procedures related to reimbursement. In 
addition, we intend to conduct audits, data validations, and site 
visits, as appropriate, to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse and to 
maximize the amount of money available for reimbursement. To ensure 
transparency with respect to the Reimbursement Fund, we plan to make 
eligibility and actual cost information available to the public as well 
as information regarding Reimbursement Fund disbursements. If we 
discover evidence of intentional fraud, we intend to refer the matter 
to the Commission's Office of Inspector General or to law enforcement 
for criminal investigation, as appropriate. We invite comment on these 
proposals. Are there other steps we should take to avoid potential 
fraud and ensure that appropriate safeguards are applied to the 
Reimbursement Fund?

IV. Order

    90. The companion Order, which was adopted together with the NPRM, 
appears separately in the Federal Register.

V. Procedural Matters

A. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    91. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as 
amended (RFA), the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) has 
prepared this present Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) 
concerning the possible significant economic impact on small entities 
by the policies and rules proposed in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 
(NPRM). Written public comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments 
must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the 
deadlines for comments provided on the first page of the NPRM. The 
Commission will send a copy of the NPRM, including this IRFA, to the 
Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA). 
In addition, the NPRM and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published 
in the Federal Register.

B. Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules

    92. The NPRM proposes rules to implement Congress's recent 
directive that the Commission reimburse certain Low Power Television 
(LPTV), television translator (TV translator), and FM broadcast 
stations for costs incurred as a result of the Commission's broadcast 
television spectrum incentive auction. When Congress authorized the 
Commission to conduct the incentive auction as part of the 2012 
Spectrum Act, it required the Commission to reimburse certain costs 
incurred by full power and Class A television licensees that were 
reassigned to new channels as a result of the auction, as well as 
certain costs incurred by multichannel video program distributors 
(MVPDs) to continue to carry such stations. On March 23, 2018, Congress 
adopted the Reimbursement Expansion Act (REA), which amends Section 
6403 of the Spectrum Act to expand the list of entities eligible to be 
reimbursed for auction-related expenses to include LPTV, TV translator, 
and FM broadcast

[[Page 43629]]

stations, and to provide additional funds to the Reimbursement Fund to 
be used for this purpose. The REA also increases the funds available to 
reimburse full power and Class A stations and MVPDs, and provides funds 
to the Commission for consumer education.
    93. The NPRM proposes a mechanism for reimbursing the newly 
eligible entities that is substantially similar to the process 
currently used by the Commission to reimburse full power and Class A 
licensees and MVPDs as established in the Incentive Auction R&O. The 
NPRM:
     Tentatively concludes that LPTV and TV translator stations 
(collectively referred to as LPTV/translator stations) are eligible for 
reimbursement if (1) they filed an application during the Commission's 
Special Displacement Window and obtained a construction permit, and (2) 
were licensed and transmitting for at least 9 of the 12 months prior to 
April 13, 2017, as required by the REA.
     Tentatively concludes that the Commission will reimburse 
LPTV/translator stations for their reasonable costs to construct the 
facilities authorized by the grant of the station's Special 
Displacement Window application, but will require stations to reuse 
existing equipment and take other measures to mitigate costs where 
possible.
     Tentatively concludes that both full power FM stations and 
FM translators that were licensed and transmitting on April 13, 2017, 
using the facilities impacted by the repacked television station are 
eligible for reimbursement under the REA. The NPRM proposes that this 
will include FM stations that incur costs because they must permanently 
relocate, temporarily or permanently modify their facilities, or 
purchase or modify auxiliary facilities to provide service to at least 
80 percent of their primary station's coverage area or population 
during a period of time when construction work is occurring on a 
collocated repacked television station's facilities.
     Proposes to reimburse up to 100 percent of the costs 
eligible for reimbursement for FM stations that must relocate 
permanently, or temporarily or permanently modify facilities, and seeks 
comment on a graduated, prioritized system to reimburse FM stations for 
the cost to purchase or modify auxiliary equipment to avoid going 
silent as a result of the repacking process.
     Proposes to require LPTV/translator and FM stations 
seeking reimbursement to file with the Commission one or more forms 
certifying that they meet the eligibility criteria established in this 
proceeding for reimbursement, providing information regarding their 
current broadcasting equipment, and providing an estimate of their 
costs eligible for reimbursement. The NPRM invites comment on ways to 
streamline the submission of this information for these entities.
     Proposes that after the submission of information, the 
Media Bureau will provide eligible entities with an allocation of 
funds, to be available for draw down as the entities incur expenses. 
The NPRM proposes that the Media Bureau will make an initial allocation 
toward eligible expenses, followed by subsequent allocation(s) as 
needed, to the extent funds remain for LPTV/translator stations and FM 
stations in the Reimbursement Fund, and seeks comment on how to 
determine the amount of these allocations.
     Proposes to use revised versions of the financial forms 
currently being used by full power, Class A, and MVPD entities for 
purposes of reimbursing eligible LPTV/translator and FM stations, and 
proposes to use the same procedures to provide reimbursement payments 
to these newly eligible entities.
     Discusses the measures the Commission proposes to take to 
protect the Reimbursement Fund against waste, fraud, and abuse.

C. Legal Basis

    94. The proposed action is authorized pursuant to sections 1, 4, 
303, and 336(f) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, Section 
6403 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, and 
Section 511, Division E, Title V of the Consolidated Appropriations 
Act, 2018, Public Law 115-141 (2018), 47 U.S.C. 151, 154, 303, 336(f), 
1452.

D. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities To Which 
the Proposed Rules Will Apply

    95. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and where 
feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be 
affected by the proposed rules, if adopted. The RFA generally defines 
the term ``small entity'' as having the same meaning as the terms 
``small business,'' ``small organization,'' and ``small governmental 
jurisdiction.'' In addition, the term ``small business'' has the same 
meaning as the term ``small business concern'' under the Small Business 
Act. A small business concern is one which: (1) Is independently owned 
and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) 
satisfies any additional criteria established by the SBA. Below, we 
provide a description of such small entities, as well as an estimate of 
the number of such small entities, where feasible.
    96. Radio and Television Broadcasting and Wireless Communications 
Equipment Manufacturing. This industry comprises establishments 
primarily engaged in manufacturing radio and television broadcast and 
wireless communications equipment. Examples of products made by these 
establishments are: Transmitting and receiving antennas, cable 
television equipment, GPS equipment, pagers, cellular phones, mobile 
communications equipment, and radio and television studio and 
broadcasting equipment. The Small Business Administration has 
established a size standard for this industry of 750 employees or less. 
Census data for 2012 show that 841 establishments operated in this 
industry in that year. Of that number, 819 establishments operated with 
less than 500 employees. Based on this data, we conclude that a 
majority of manufacturers in this industry are small.
    97. Audio and Video Equipment Manufacturing. This industry 
comprises establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing electronic 
audio and video equipment for home entertainment, motor vehicles, and 
public address and musical instrument amplification. Examples of 
products made by these establishments are video cassette recorders, 
televisions, stereo equipment, speaker systems, household-type video 
cameras, jukeboxes, and amplifiers for musical instruments and public 
address systems. The SBA has established a size standard for this 
industry, in which all firms with 750 employees or less are small. 
According to U.S. Census data for 2012, 466 audio and video equipment 
manufacturers were operational in that year. Of that number, 465 
operated with fewer than 500 employees. Based on this Census data and 
the associated size standard, we conclude that the majority of such 
manufacturers are small.
    98. Radio Stations. This economic Census category ``comprises 
establishments primarily engaged in broadcasting aural programs by 
radio to the public.'' The SBA has created the following small business 
size standard for this category: Those having $38.5 million or less in 
annual receipts. Census data for 2012 shows that 2,849 firms in this 
category operated in that year. Of this number, 2,806 firms had annual 
receipts of less than $25,000,000, and 43 firms had annual receipts of

[[Page 43630]]

$25,000,000 or more. Because the Census has no additional 
classifications that could serve as a basis for determining the number 
of stations whose receipts exceeded $38.5 million in that year, we 
conclude that the majority of television broadcast stations were small 
under the applicable SBA size standard.
    99. Apart from the U.S. Census, the Commission has estimated the 
number of licensed commercial AM radio stations to be 4,429 stations 
and the number of commercial FM radio stations to be 6,741, for a total 
number of 11,170. Of this total, 9,898 stations had revenues of $38.5 
million or less, according to Commission staff review of the BIA Kelsey 
Inc. Media Access Pro Television Database (BIA) in October 2014. In 
addition, the Commission has estimated the number of noncommercial 
educational FM radio stations to be 4,125. NCE stations are non-profit, 
and therefore considered to be small entities. Therefore, we estimate 
that the majority of radio broadcast stations are small entities.
    100. Low Power FM Stations. The same SBA definition that applies to 
radio stations would apply to low power FM stations. As noted above, 
the SBA has created the following small business size standard for this 
category: Those having $38.5 million or less in annual receipts. The 
Commission has estimated the number of licensed low power FM stations 
to be 2,150. In addition, as of June 30, 2017, there were a total of 
7,604 FM translator and FM booster stations. Given that low power FM 
stations and FM translators and boosters are too small and limited in 
their operations to have annual receipts anywhere near the SBA size 
standard of $38.5 million, we will presume that these licensees qualify 
as small entities under the SBA definition.
    101. We note again, however, that in assessing whether a business 
concern qualifies as ``small'' under the above definition, business 
(control) affiliations must be included. Because we do not include or 
aggregate revenues from affiliated companies in determining whether an 
entity meets the applicable revenue threshold, our estimate of the 
number of small radio broadcast stations affected is likely overstated. 
In addition, as noted above, one element of the definition of ``small 
business'' is that an entity not be dominant in its field of operation. 
We are unable at this time to define or quantify the criteria that 
would establish whether a specific radio broadcast station is dominant 
in its field of operation. Accordingly, our estimate of small radio 
stations potentially affected by the proposed rules includes those that 
could be dominant in their field of operation. For this reason, such 
estimate likely is over-inclusive.
    102. Television Broadcasting. This economic Census category 
``comprises establishments primarily engaged in broadcasting images 
together with sound. These establishments operate television 
broadcasting studios and facilities for the programming and 
transmission of programs to the public.'' These establishments also 
produce or transmit visual programming to affiliated broadcast 
television stations, which in turn broadcast the programs to the public 
on a predetermined schedule. Programming may originate in their own 
studio, from an affiliated network, or from external sources. The SBA 
has created the following small business size standard for Television 
Broadcasting firms: Those having $38.5 million or less in annual 
receipts. The 2012 economic Census reports that 751 television 
broadcasting firms operated during that year. Of that number, 656 had 
annual receipts of less than $25 million per year. Based on that Census 
data we conclude that a majority of firms that operate television 
stations are small. We therefore estimate that the majority of 
commercial television broadcasters are small entities.
    103. We note, however, that in assessing whether a business concern 
qualifies as small under the above definition, business (control) 
affiliations must be included. Our estimate, therefore, likely 
overstates the number of small entities that might be affected by our 
action because the revenue figure on which it is based does not include 
or aggregate revenues from affiliated companies. In addition, an 
element of the definition of ``small business'' is that the entity not 
be dominant in its field of operation. We are unable at this time to 
define or quantify the criteria that would establish whether a specific 
television station is dominant in its field of operation. Accordingly, 
the estimate of small businesses to which rules may apply does not 
exclude any television station from the definition of a small business 
on this basis and is therefore possibly over-inclusive to that extent.
    104. In addition, the Commission has estimated the number of 
licensed noncommercial educational (NCE) television stations to be 390. 
These stations are non-profit, and therefore considered to be small 
entities.
    105. There are also 2,309 LPTV stations, including Class A 
stations, and 3,727 TV translator stations. Given the nature of these 
services, we will presume that all of these entities qualify as small 
entities under the above SBA small business size standard.

E. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other 
Compliance Requirements

    106. The NPRM proposes the following revised reporting or 
recordkeeping requirements. To implement the REA, it is proposed that 
eligible entities file forms to demonstrate their eligibility and 
estimated costs for reimbursement. Specifically, the NPRM proposes to 
use revised versions of the financial forms currently being used by 
full power, Class A, and multichannel video programming distributors 
(MVPD) entities from the incentive auction for purposes of reimbursing 
eligible LPTV/translator and FM stations. The NPRM proposes to use the 
procedures to provide reimbursement payments to these newly eligible 
entities that are similar to those it used for reimbursement in the 
incentive auction. For example, the NPRM proposes that LPTV, TV 
translators, and FM stations be required to submit their Eligibility 
Certification, cost estimates, and subsequent requests for 
reimbursement for expenses they have incurred, together with any 
required supporting documentation, using the Reimbursement Form (FCC 
Form 2100, Schedule 399), which the Commission plans to revise for this 
purpose. As required for full power and Class A stations and MVPDs, the 
NPRM proposes that LPTV/translator and FM stations submit the 
Reimbursement Form electronically via the Commission's Licensing and 
Management System (LMS) database. The NPRM proposes to require LPTV/
translator and FM stations to use a procedure and form similar to the 
existing FCC Form 1876 and to file electronically in the CORES 
Incentive Auction Financial Module.
    107. The Commission, as part of its continuing effort to reduce 
paperwork burdens, will invite the general public and the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) to comment on the information collection 
requirements proposed in this document, as required by the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), Public Law 104-13.

F. Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small 
Entities and Significant Alternatives Considered

    108. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant 
alternatives that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, 
which may include the following four alternatives (among others): ``(1) 
the establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or 
timetables that take into

[[Page 43631]]

account the resources available to small entities; (2) the 
clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance and 
reporting requirements under the rule for such small entities; (3) the 
use of performance, rather than design standards; and (4) an exemption 
from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small entities.''
    109. The NPRM proposes rules to implement the REA. The proposed 
rules are designed allow small entity broadcasters to seek 
reimbursement in such a manner that is streamlined and the least 
burdensome. The Commission will consider all comments submitted in 
connection with the NPRM including any suggested alternative approaches 
to implementing the REA that would reduce the burden and costs on 
smaller entities.
    110. In addition, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief 
Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4), the 
Commission will seek specific comment on how it might further reduce 
the information collection burden for small business concerns with 
fewer than 25 employees.

G. Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the 
Proposed Rule

    111. None.

H. Paperwork Reduction Act

    112. The NPRM contains proposed new or modified information 
collections. The Commission, as part of its continuing effort to reduce 
paperwork burdens, invites the general public and the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) to comment on the information collection 
requirements proposed in the NPRM, as required by the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), Public Law 104-13. In addition, pursuant 
to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002 (SBPRA), Public Law 
107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4), we seek specific comment on how we 
might further reduce the information collection burden for small 
business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.

I. Ex Parte Rules

    113. Permit But Disclose. The proceeding this NPRM initiates shall 
be treated as a ``permit-but-disclose'' proceeding in accordance with 
the Commission's ex parte rules. Persons making ex parte presentations 
must file a copy of any written presentation or a memorandum 
summarizing any oral presentation within two business days after the 
presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the Sunshine 
period applies). Persons making oral ex parte presentations are 
reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentation must (1) list all 
persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at which 
the ex parte presentation was made, and (2) summarize all data 
presented and arguments made during the presentation. If the 
presentation consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data 
or arguments already reflected in the presenter's written comments, 
memoranda or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide 
citations to such data or arguments in his or her prior comments, 
memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant page and/or 
paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of 
summarizing them in the memorandum. Documents shown or given to 
Commission staff during ex parte meetings are deemed to be written ex 
parte presentations and must be filed consistent with rule 1.1206(b). 
In proceedings governed by rule 1.49(f) or for which the Commission has 
made available a method of electronic filing, written ex parte 
presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations, 
and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the electronic 
comment filing system available for that proceeding, and must be filed 
in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable.pdf). 
Participants in this proceeding should familiarize themselves with the 
Commission's ex parte rules.

J. Filing Requirements

    114. Comments and Replies. Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  1.415 and 1.419 
of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may 
file comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated on 
the first page of this document. Comments may be filed using the 
Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic 
Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
     Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.
     Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must 
file an original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket 
or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers 
must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or 
rulemaking number. Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, 
by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. 
Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's 
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
     All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings 
for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 
445 12th St. SW, Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours 
are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together 
with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be 
disposed of before entering the building.
     Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service 
Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9050 Junction Drive, 
Annapolis Junction, MD 20701.
     U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority 
mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554.
    115. People with Disabilities. To request materials in accessible 
formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic 
files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] or call the 
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-
418-0432 (tty).
    116. Availability of Documents. Comments, reply comments, and ex 
parte submissions will be available for public inspection during 
regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Federal 
Communications Commission, 445 12th St. SW, Room CY-A257, Washington, 
DC 20554. These documents will also be available via ECFS. Documents 
will be available electronically in ASCII, Microsoft Word, and/or Adobe 
Acrobat.

VI. Ordering Clauses

    117. Accordingly, it is ordered that, pursuant to the authority 
contained in Sections 1, 4, 303, and 336(f) of the Communications Act 
of 1934, as amended, Section 6403 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and 
Job Creation Act of 2012, and Section 511, Division E, Title V of the 
Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, Public Law 115-141 (2018), 47 
U.S.C. 151, 154, 303, 336(f), 1452, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 
is adopted.
    118. It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a 
copy of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order, including the 
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for 
Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

[[Page 43632]]

List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 73

    Multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), Radio, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Television.

Federal Communications Commission.
Katura Jackson,
Federal Register Liaison Officer, Office of the Secretary.

Proposed Rules

PART 73--RADIO BROADCAST SERVICES

0
1. The authority citation for part 73 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  47 U.S.C. 154, 303, 309, 310, 334, 336 and 339.

0
2. Section 73.3701 is added to read as follows:


Sec.  73.3701   Reimbursement under the Reimbursement Expansion Act.

    (a) Definitions--
    (1) FM station. For purposes of this section, the term FM station 
means those stations authorized by 47 CFR 73.310.
    (2) Incentive Auction. For purposes of this section, the term 
Incentive Auction means the broadcast television spectrum incentive 
auction conducted under Section 6403 of the Spectrum Act specifying the 
new channel assignments and technical parameters of any broadcast 
television stations that are reassigned to new channels.
    (3) Licensed. For purposes of this section, the term licensed means 
a station that was licensed or that filed a license application prior 
to April 13, 2017.
    (4) Low power television station. For purposes of this section, the 
term low power television station means those stations authorized by 47 
CFR 74.701.
    (5) Predetermined cost estimate. For purposes of this section, 
predetermined cost estimate means the estimated cost of an eligible 
expense as generally determined by the Media Bureau in a catalog of 
expenses eligible for reimbursement.
    (6) Reimbursement Expansion Act or REA. For purposes of this 
section, the term Reimbursement Expansion Act or REA means Division E, 
Financial Services & General Appropriation Act, 2018, Title V 
Independent Agencies, Public Law 115-141, Section 511 (codified at 47 
U.S.C. 1452(j) through (n)) adopted as part of the Consolidated 
Appropriations Act, 2018, Public Law 115-141 (2018).
    (7) Reimbursement period. For purposes of this section, 
reimbursement period means the period ending July 3, 2023 pursuant to 
sections 510(j)(1)(A) and (B) of the REA.
    (8) Replacement translator station. For purposes of this section, 
the term replacement translator station means analog to digital 
replacement translator stations authorized pursuant to 47 CFR 
74.787(a)(5).
    (9) Spectrum Act. For purposes of this section, the term Spectrum 
Act means Title VI of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act 
of 2012 (Pub. L. 112-96).
    (10) Special Displacement Window. For purposes of this section, the 
term Special Displacement Window means the displacement application 
filing window conducted April 10, 2018 to June 1, 2018 for low power 
television, TV translator, and analog-to-digital replacement translator 
stations that were displaced by the incentive auction and repacking 
process.
    (11) Transmitting. For purposes of this section, the term 
transmitting means operating not less than 2 hours in each day of the 
week and not less than a total of 28 hours per calendar week for 9 of 
the 12 months prior to April 13, 2017.
    (12) TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund. For purposes of this section, 
the TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund means the fund established by the 
REA.
    (13) TV translator station. For purposes of this section, the term 
TV translator station means those stations authorized by 47 CFR 74.701.
    (b) Only the following entities are eligible for reimbursement of 
relocation costs reasonably incurred:
    (1) Low power television stations. Low power television stations 
that filed an application for construction permit during the Special 
Displacement Window and such application was subsequently granted. 
Station must have been licensed and transmitting for at least 9 of the 
12 months prior to April 13, 2017.
    (2) TV translator stations. TV translator stations that filed an 
application for construction permit during the Special Displacement 
Window and such application was subsequently granted. Station must have 
been licensed and transmitting for at least 9 of the 12 months prior to 
April 13, 2017.
    (3) Replacement translator stations. Replacement translator 
stations that filed an application for construction permit during the 
Special Displacement Window and such application was subsequently 
granted. Station must have been licensed and transmitting for at least 
9 of the 12 months prior to April 13, 2017.
    (4) FM station. FM stations that experienced a disruption of 
service as a result of the reorganization of broadcast television 
spectrum under 47 U.S.C. 1452(b).
    (c) Reimbursement process.
    (1) Estimated costs.
    (i) All entities that are eligible to receive reimbursement will be 
required to file an estimated cost form providing an estimate of their 
reasonably incurred costs.
    (ii) Each eligible entity that submits an estimated cost form will 
be required to certify, inter alia, that:
    (A) It is eligible for reimbursement;
    (B) It believes in good faith that it will reasonably incur all of 
the estimated costs that it claims are eligible for reimbursement on 
the estimated cost form;
    (C) It will use all money received from the TV Broadcaster 
Relocation Fund only for expenses it believes in good faith are 
eligible for reimbursement;
    (D) It will comply with all policies and procedures relating to 
allocations, draw downs, payments, obligations, and expenditures of 
money from the TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund;
    (E) It will maintain detailed records, including receipts, of all 
costs eligible for reimbursement actually incurred; and
    (F) It will file all required documentation of its relocation 
expenses as instructed by the Media Bureau.
    (iii) If an eligible entity seeks reimbursement for new equipment, 
it must provide a justification as to why it is reasonable under the 
circumstances to purchase new equipment rather than modify its 
corresponding current equipment.
    (iv) Eligible entities that submit their own cost estimates, as 
opposed to the predetermined cost estimates provided in the estimated 
cost form, must submit supporting evidence and certify that the 
estimate is made in good faith.
    (2) Final Allocation Deadline.
    (i) Upon completing construction or other reimbursable changes, or 
by a specific deadline prior to the end of the Reimbursement Period to 
be established by the Media Bureau, whichever is earlier, all eligible 
entities that received an initial allocation from the TV Broadcaster 
Relocation Fund must provide the Commission with information and 
documentation, including invoices and receipts, regarding their actual 
expenses incurred as of a date to be determined by the Media Bureau 
(the ``Final Allocation Deadline'').
    (ii) If an eligible entity has not yet completed construction or 
other

[[Page 43633]]

reimbursable changes by the Final Allocation Deadline, it must provide 
the Commission with information and documentation regarding any 
remaining eligible expenses that it expects to reasonably incur.
    (3) Final accounting. After completing all construction or 
reimbursable changes, eligible entities that have received money from 
the TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund will be required to submit final 
expense documentation containing a list of estimated expenses and 
actual expenses as of a date to be determined by the Media Bureau. 
Entities that have finished construction and have submitted all actual 
expense documentation by the Final Allocation Deadline will not be 
required to file at the final accounting stage.
    (4) Documentation requirements.
    (i) Each eligible entity that receives payment from the TV 
Broadcaster Relocation Fund is required to retain all relevant 
documents pertaining to construction or other reimbursable changes for 
a period ending not less than 10 years after the date on which it 
receives final payment from the TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund.
    (ii) Each eligible entity that receives payment from the TV 
Broadcaster Relocation Fund must make available all relevant 
documentation upon request from the Commission or its contractor.

[FR Doc. 2018-17844 Filed 8-24-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 6712-01-P


83_FR_43779
Current View
CategoryRegulatory Information
CollectionFederal Register
sudoc ClassAE 2.7:
GS 4.107:
AE 2.106:
PublisherOffice of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration
SectionProposed Rules
ActionProposed rule.
DatesComments may be filed on or before September 26, 2018; and reply comments may be filed on or before October 26, 2018.
ContactKim Matthews of the FCC's Media Bureau, Policy Division, [email protected], (202) 418-2154.
FR Citation83 FR 43613 
CFR AssociatedMultichannel Video Programming Distributors (mvpds); Radio; Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements and Television

2019 Federal Register | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy
USC | CFR | eCFR