LPTV Industry Leaders Meet With FCC Chairman Pai

LPTV industry leaders meet with members of the Media Bureau, OET and Incentive Auction Task Force on Tuesday, March 28, in Washington, D.c. (Photo: LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition)

LPTV industry leaders, including Advanced Television Broadcasting Alliance (ATBA) Board Members, gathered on Tuesday, March 28, in Washington, D.C. for two landmark meetings in hopes of establishing a roadmap towards permanency for Low Power Television (LPTV) stations and translators as the spectrum auction closes.

The first meeting brought together LPTV and members of the Media Bureau as well as OET and Incentive Auction Task Force staff to discuss auction impacts across the broadcast industry and to release the repacking transition phase and PEA to those affected.

When the industry leaders joined FCC Chairman Pai for the second meeting, it marked the first time that an FCC Chair has met with LPTV leaders.

LPTV industry leaders met with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on March 28 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition)

“It has been way more than a decade that the LPTV industry has had the opportunity to talk directly with an FCC Chairman,” said Mike Gravino, LPTV Spectrum Rights Director who organized the meetings. “And this week owners and rep’s from the major LPTV station groups met with new Chairman Ajit Pai to discuss the problems of the auction and repack, and the future possibilities of the NextGen broadcast system.

For most in the room, the meeting was a positive step in shedding light on the FCC’s regulation process and willingness to work with LPTV for a viable future.

“I was inspired by Chairman Pai’s willingness to meet with LPTV operators since he has been the only Chairman to do so,” said Gary Cocola, owner of Cocola Broadcasting Industry, LLC and ATBA board member.

In the meeting, a request for permanency for LPTV stations and translators was made to protect these entities in the future.

“No LPTV or Translator that survives the VIA created displacement process should ever be forced to live through it again. LPTV broadcasters have faced numerous repacks, regulatory discrimination and financial disruptions over the years due to the unchecked desires of the major wireless operators. Permanency requires new regulations be adopted to provide stability to LPTV broadcasters and for licensees to secure the investments needed to be able to participate in the new world of ATSC3.0.” (pg. 27).

The new ATSC 3.0 standard is a very good reason to move beyond the spectrum auction and look to the future.

“DTV America has 51 active stations and 348 free television channels with thousands more coming and we are just one LPTV group,”said Irwin Podhajser, ATBA Board member and DTV America Vice President. “LPTV has a bright future with thousands upon thousands of free channels being offered to the ever growing cord-cutters and cord-nevers and multiple more services as ATSC 3.0 becomes a reality. This only happens though if there is an FCC that is on LPTV’s side to help as many LPTV stations survive the repack as possible and a clear path to primary status to those that do.

The meeting also brought LPTV concerns and issues to the forefront of the FCC, reminding the Commission just how many rely on low power stations.

“This was a very important meeting for LPTV,” said Lee Miller, ATBA Communications Director. “In recent years, the LPTV industry has been been delegated to the back of the bus at the FCC. The original design of the LPTV was to be secondary ONLY to full power television – not a secondary service to other spectrum users. Millions of viewers watch and depend on these local broadcast stations and an opportunity for LPTV leaders to be heard before Chairman Pia is a step to saving an industry important to the fabric of our nation.”

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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