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Table of Contents - September 15, 2017

Lawmakers Sympathetic To Broadcasters, Wireless Entities In TV Channel Repacking

Members of the House communications and technology subcommittee said Sept. 7 that it is important to meet the needs of both broadcasters and bidders of spectrum in the incentive auction during the post-auction transition, including ensuring that no TV stations are forced to go dark for reasons outside their control and that wireless entities get timely access to the frequencies that drew bids of nearly $20 billion.

During a hearing, witnesses and lawmakers noted that the FCC has received more than $2.1 billion in estimated reimbursement cost requests related to the TV band repacking, surpassing the $1.75 billion that Congress reserved for the TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund. Broadcasters urged Congress to pass legislation making it clear that the FCC can't force any TV station off the air or reduce service due to circumstances outside of its control, while broadcasters and wireless groups expressed support for increasing the amount of funding available for repacking. Wireless entities also said there should be no change in the 39-month repacking transition timeline and that the Commission has the authority to grant waivers on a case-by-case basis to give stations additional time if necessary.

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Lifeline Reform Debated, but Both Sides Agree Effort to Ensure Access Still Needed

Both critics and defenders of the FCC's Lifeline program among the senators and witnesses who participated in a Sept. 6 Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing agreed that it is important both to achieve the goals of the program and to safeguard against waste, fraud, and abuse in its implementation.

Their differences, which were understated, came on the questions of how radical further reform of the program should be, and whether the subsidy is supporting phone and broadband service for people who would subscribe even without the subsidy.

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