Full power and Class A Broadcasters that have been reassigned to new channels must submit their reimbursement estimates for their repacking costs by July 12 using a form released Thursday by the FCC.
The stations must include engineering, legal, equipment, installation, and other costs reasonably incurred to complete a required channel change.
And for those participants in the repacking efforts, it appears that there can be respectable profit during the next 39-month transition deadline.
The FCC Media Bureau developed a catalog of eligible expenses in 2013 and 2014 and most recently in October 2016 it asked for comments regarding expense categories and baseline costs provided by Widelity, the FCC’s research analyst that worked with industry stakeholders.
The Bureau received only eight comments, none of which addressed a submitter’s concern about the pricing being offered. Most likely, because the reimbursement ranges were equitable, perhaps even healthy in some categories, according to a number of contractors, engineers and suppliers Wireless Estimator contacted last year.
The new reimbursement catalog was issued on Feb. 9, 2017 and a beginning range can increase 300% or more such as side mount brackets for high power antennas, $7,500 to $22,000.
Transmission line pricing is provided per foot and is $10 for 7/8” foam dielectric and $23 for 1-5/8”.
The range for a poorly or undocumented tower that needs mapping is between $16,000 to $25,000. The load study is between $5,000 to $12,000 and increased to $15,000 and $19,000 if the structure has a candelabra.
Removal of an existing antenna and transmission line and installation of a new one ranges from $100,000 to $200,000 for a tower greater than 500′ and $60,000 to $80,000 for a smaller structure.
Towers with candelabras and/or stacked antennas are at the high range: $100,000 to $400,000.
Minor tower reinforcement/modifications range from $100,000 to $150,000 with major modifications running from $300,000 to $150,000.
A serious mod can be from $500,000 to $1 million.
The FCC will accept other costs not included in the catalog.
New towers with the cost including constructing the tower is priced per foot with 1,000-foot to 1,500 foot structures at $2,500 per foot and $3,000 for towers 1,500 to 2,000 feet in height.
The FCC said reimbursement payments will not be disbursed to third parties such as equipment vendors or contractors.
After reviewing each station’s cost estimates, the Media Bureau will authorize an initial allocation of funds. For commercial stations the funds will be for up to 80 percent of their estimated costs. The initial allocation for non-commercial stations will be for up to 90 percent. Stations will be allowed to “draw down” against their allocated amounts as they incur expenses. Each time a station requests reimbursement of an expense, it must amend and submit a revised reimbursement form to document the actual cost of the expense.
Winning incentive auction bidders that remain on the air and incur relocation costs because of their winning bid option (i.e. stations that move from UHF to low or high VHF, high VHF to low VHF, or “sharee” stations that move in order to share a channel with another licensee) must pay for their own relocation costs.
Broadcasters assigned new channels in the repacking process that apply for and receive a flexible use waiver of the FCC’s service rules will also forgo reimbursement for their relocation costs, according to the FCC.
Last April, the FCC released a ruling that repacking expenses incurred before or during the broadcast incentive auction, such as tower mapping and structural analysis expenses, would be compensated by the FCC so long as they are covered repacking-related expenses.