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A First Step: The Low Power Protection Act

A First Step: The Low Power Protection Act

On Wednesday, December 15, 2021, Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Low Power Protection Act, S.3405. If enacted, the bill would direct the FCC to open a new window to allow LPTV stations that meet specific criteria to apply for Class A status.
Many of you have asked us about the Low Power Protection Act that has been in the news this week.  For the past 12 years, the ATBA has played a role as an organization helping to protect LPTV spectrum.  And many of the things we have worked to gain, such as funding for displaced LPTV stations and CP extensions have been with very little “horn tooting.” This bill has been in the works for over a year, and some ATBA members have been very involved in “smoothing over” some concerns with the concept of a new Class A window as this bill worked its way through the legislative process. 
Some of the details – To qualify for Class A status under the proposal, a LPTV station must:

  • In the 90 day period preceding the passage of the Act: (1) broadcast a minimum of 18 hours per day; (2) broadcast at least 3 hours per week of programming that was provided within the market area served by such station, or the market area served by a group of commonly controlled low-power stations that carry common local programming produced within the market area served by such group; and (3) been in compliance with the FCC’s requirements applicable to low power television stations.
  • Operate in a Designated Market Area with not more than 95,000 television households (which, based on Nielsen’s 2021 market list, would be market 177 or lower)

The full text of the proposed bill is available HERE.
The ATBA supports efforts to expand protection for LPTV stations that have made the investment to serve their local communities and will be following this bill closely.  While this bill does not cover all LPTV stations, we believe it is a good and important first step.