LPTV DISPLACEMENT WINDOW – April 10 to June 1, 2018

The following notes are from the presentation by ATBA Board Member Michael Couzens at the LPTV @ NAB Roundtable Session he hosted on April 6,2018

Overview: All Low Power TV stations and TV translators eventually will have an opportunity to “displace” to a new channel, Channel 36 or below. Only those stations that were on the air and licensed as of April 13, 2017, may apply during this window. Construction Permit holders who haven’t built, and un-granted applicants will need to wait for a later filing opportunity.

Engineering to Find a Channel

Displacement applications during the filing window must not be predicted to cause objectionable interference to other protected users, including full service TV, land mobile radio, and existing licensed prior-in- time LPTV’s.

The FCC has provided a lay person’s channel selection tool at https://data.fcc.gov/download/incentive-auctions/LPTV-Data.

How to use this tool is the subject of a detailed Appendix to the February 9 window announcement. Unfortunately, this utility is a rough guide, It does not guarantee use of any channel or location. Instead, an engineering study must be prepared, using “TV Study” software:

https://www.fcc.gov/oet/tvstudy.

Generally, use of TV Study is a complicated art and may require the help of a telecommunications consulting engineer.

Anyone not having their engineering solution lined up by now is unlikely to be able to participate in time for the window!

Filing Strategy

The engineering exhibit should be prepared at the earliest possible date.

Deciding when to file gets complicated, however. Your filing becomes a public document during the window.

By filing early in the window, an applicant can alert competitors, with the hope that other applicants will chose other channels so as to avoid a conflict. But an early filing also may expose a desirable channel that your engineer found by dint of hard work. A competitor might adapt that work and deliberately choose that channel.

Given this, some may choose to file at the last minute, so their application cannot be copied. If that is your choice, filing on the very last day is not advised. In past windows, FCC servers have crashed under heavy last-minute volume. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to file, and being barred by a balky FCC web site.

Resolving Conflicts

Actual conflicts between filers – mutual exclusivity – by law must be resolved through an auction. To force stations, including existing analog stations, to actually bid for a secondary channel that could some day be displaced (again!) seems absurd, but that is the law.

To avoid this, the FCC will announce a post-window opportunity for stations in conflict to modify their engineering, probably even to different channels. And settlements, with a cap on the consideration paid, will be permitted.

The good news is that FCC staff no more wants to see these applicants sent to auction than you do. The bad news is that, in congested markets where channels are few, some auctions may become unavoidable.

Future Second Window

Once the claims for spectrum from this window period are settled – through uncontested “singletons,” technical modifications and settlements, a filing opportunity will open up for LPTV’s and translators who were ineligible for this window. As presently planned, the second filing opportunity may not be a window with a fixed opening and closing. Instead

it could be that staff will announce a permanent sunset of the freeze on LPTV displacement applications and minor amendments. At that point the volume of applications will be constrained by the fact that the compressed TV spectrum from Channels 2 to 36 will have become highly saturated.

Milestones on the Road to this Window – References

FCC adopts a transition date, later determined to be July 13, 2021, as the deadline for analog LPTV stations to transition to DTV and for DTV construction permit holders to actually construct. Digital LPTV Transition, 3rd Report and Order, 30 FCC Rcd 14927, Dec. 17, 2015.

Media Bureau freezes filing of Low Power Television DTV Companion Channels, effective immediately, Public Notice, 32 FCC Rcd 566, January 19, 2017.

Media Bureau freezes filing for LPTV minor changes, effective immediately, DA 17-1227, Public Notice, December 20, 2017.

Media Bureau sets forth procedures for future filing window. Limits eligibility for the initial window to stations that were on the air as of April 13, 2017. Public Notice, 32 FCC Rcd 3860, May 12, 2017.

To stabilize the data base of primary stations who must be protected, Bureau briefly lifts the freeze on full service TV minor changes, November 28 to December 7, 2017. (After that full service TV’s will ned to stay put pending the LPTV window.) Public Notice, 32 FCC Rcd 9328, Nov. 6, 2017.

Finally, on February 9, 2018, the Media Bureau announces the initial filing window, to take place between April 10 and June 1, 2018, Public Notice, DA 18-124.

Michael Couzens Oakland, California April 6, 2018 cuz@well.com

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Dear Fellow LPTV Broadcaster and Industry Leaders,

The auction has ended and most of us are still here.  While it was not only our hope but the hope of many others that the auction would not take place . . . it did, but it did not have the devastating effect that it might have had. 

The world after the auction looks different and amazingly so has a very bright future!

What does that future look like?  Not only the amazing possibilities of ATSC 3.0 but the landscape of a nation of people who are increasingly cutting their cable cords and looking for free, over the air, broadcasting content.

That’s why it’s more important than ever that you join the Advanced Television Broadcast Alliance.  Our board of directors have a combined 500+ years of experience which beginning with your membership we are going to start making more available to our members on an increasing basis.

Soon as an ATBA member, you will be eligible to start tapping into not only this brain trust through unique services available only to our members but regular news updates regarding our collective broadcast future.  We are exploring new ways to tap into information from Washington as well as important updates that will benefit you right there where you live.

The need for the ATBA has increased with the new opportunities that are becoming available for those of us who still know that the future of LPTV, Class A and Translators is bright!  Are you selling your station to local sponsors?  Are you maximizing your spectrum to the advantage that you truly can?  Are you struggling with FCC rules and regulations that you either don’t understand or can’t get explained?

The ATBA is developing a database of information to help you find the answers you need! 

In addition we are still working with the true decision makers in Washington.  Your ATBA has earned the respect and the ear of the true movers and shakers that continue to shape our collective broadcasting future.

So what can you do to get involved and begin to take advantage of these, and many other, benefits?  Join the ATBA today!  Your membership benefits will include:

  1. Members only access to hundreds of years of LPTV experience through our new “Brain Trust”
  2. Early entry to our annual NAB LPTV evening event with access to our special event guest(s)
  3. Exclusive digital content regarding real world information you need to know
  4. Eligibility for recognition for your hard work through our ATBA LPTV Awards
  5. Access to equipment manufacturers with discounts available especially for ATBA members!

To be honest you can’t afford not to be a member of the ATBA! 

We’re making it affordable because it’s a win – win!  When you join, you’re going to receive more than just the benefits listed above but also you’ll be aligning with hundreds of others who, like yourself, have a vested interest in the continued forward movement of free, over-the-air broadcasting.  It’s a win for your ATBA because we will increase our strength through numbers as we grow together.

So what’s the next step?  If you’re ready follow this link https://www.broadcastingalliance.org/join-us/ to sign up.  If you have more questions please don’t hesitate to call a member of the ATBA board of directors by calling this number (877) 214-4277.   You’ll get a rapid response!

Thanks for taking the time to read this note and for your ongoing passion for the future of communication in this great country.

Respectfully,

The Board of Directors – The Advanced Television Broadcast Alliance