LPTV Regulatory Inequality Highlighted in Senate Hearing

Hoover Institution Research Fellow Adam J. White claimed small firms take the brunt of Washington regulators’ abuse in a testimony before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on Wednesday, Feb. 1, and he called for Congress to end “regulatory inequality” harming small businesses in particular.

During the hearing titled “A Growth Agenda: Reducing Unnecessary Regulatory Burdens,” White brought forth his personal experience with the inequality in small business regulation by way of explaining his work defending the rights of small, community-based low power television broadcasters. He said the broadcasters were forced to fight in the federal court system, at their own expense, to have an even playing field with the larger broadcast companies.

But White’s experience shows more small businesses than broadcasters are experiencing the unequal treatment. While working for a small bank, White witnessed their disadvantages in handling regulatory burderns that larger institutions were far better able to shoulder.

In his written testimony, White stated, “Another example I witnessed firsthand hits closer to this Committee’s home. Before I joined the Hoover Institution, my law firm colleagues and I became counsel to parties challenging the FCC’s orders establishing the unprecedented broadcast spectrum incentive auction, in which the FCC would conduct a reverse auction to buy back spectrum usage rights from licensees, then reorganize the available spectrum, and finally auction spectrum usage rights back to the public for new non-television uses.”

“In the Spectrum Act, which Congress legislated to authorize to the FCC to undertake an incentive auction, Congress took care to expressly protect the spectrum usage rights of low power television (LPTV) stations, which tend to broadcast for religious or ethnic communities that would otherwise go unserved by major broadcasters. Specifically, Congress provided in the Spectrum Act that ‘[n]othing in this subsection shall be construed to alter the spectrum usage rights of low power television stations.’”

“But the FCC radically reinterpreted that provision to presume that LPTV stations actually have no spectrum usage rights that prevent the FCC from unilaterally taking away their licenses without compensation, even when the LPTV stations’ Broadcasts have not interfered with the broadcasts of other licensees; and the D.C. Circuit ultimately affirmed the FCC’s interpretation of what the court held to be ambiguous statutory language.”

“That regrettable outcome—which threatens to force the shutdown of many LPTV stations, by the FCC’s own admission—highlights another major disadvantage that smaller companies face in the regulatory context: when Congress legislates in broad terms, it gives regulators much more discretion to impose their own policy preferences with the added benefit of significant judicial deference. In that context, small companies are left to fend for themselves in agency proceedings, where they enjoy far fewer of the resources and tools wielded by their much larger competitors.”

To read White’s full testimony, view this PDF.

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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.


The Board of Directors – The Advanced Television Broadcast Alliance