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The FCC on Monday allocated an additional $742 million in the second round of repack funding for broadcasters and some MVPDs.

This represents 92.5 percent of total costs and nearly all of the $750 million remaining in Congress’ original $1.75 billion repack fund, with $8 million remaining. Reimbursement allocations are based on broadcasters’ cost estimates that sometimes fluctuate.

The second tranche of post-incentive auction repack funding was larger than originally anticipated, as Congress in March passed the Ray Baum’s Act, which included provisions to provide up to $750 million in additional repack funding if the $1.75 billion originally allocated isn’t enough to fulfill reimbursement costs. It is likely this will be the case, with the FCC’s most recent verified cost estimates at $1.88 billion, and the agency expects that figure to rise.

Once the FCC certifies that the additional funds are needed, $350 million would be available for full power and Class A stations in 2018 and $400 million in 2019.

“The availability of these additional funds substantially mitigates the Fund management challenges,” the FCC’s Media Bureau and incentive auction task force said in a public notice announcing the additional repack fund allocations.

“Although only a small fraction of eligible entities are currently approaching the limit of their initial allocation funding, this further allocation ensures all entities continue to have sufficient ongoing access to reimbursement funding to fully pursue their transition projects,” the agency said.

Back in July 2017 initial broadcaster estimates pegged repack reimbursement costs at $2.11 billion, but the figure was eventually dropped to $1.86 billion in October after further FCC review – though the agency noted the amount was likely to rise again as broadcasters begin transitioning.

In October, the FCC doled out the first tranche of $1 billion, representing about 52 percent of funds requested by commercial broadcasters and 62 percent for noncommercial educational stations.

The FCC in its recent announcement also stressed that the 39-month post-auction transition deadline would remain unchanged, despite Congress giving the Commission additional time to perform a final accounting of payments at the end of the reimbursement program.

“We have provided several tools that will allow us to provide alternative transition solutions that could resolve unforeseen circumstances that could force a station to go dark,” the FCC wrote. “We reiterate, however, our prior admonition that failure to timely initiate a construction project or undertake necessary steps to complete the transition by the phase transition date due to the amount of any allocation will not be weighed favorably as a factor in considering grants of such relief.”

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