LPTV: Will It Survive? The Alliance Comments on Today’s Congressional Hearing

December 12, 2012 – The Advanced Television Broadcasting Alliance applauds Congressman Joe Barton (R-Texas) for calling for protection of all Low Power Television Stations (LPTV) in the upcoming spectrum auction and repack.

At today’s Energy and Commerce hearing (“Keeping the New Broadband Spectrum Law on Track”), Barton made it clear that he understood the intention of Congress is to protect all licensed TV broadcasters including LPTV.  Members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee heard all five FCC Commissioners answer questions about the Spectrum Auction.

Congressman Barton reminded the Chairman that the intent of Congress was to protect broadcasters and it would therefore not be their intention to force Low Power TV broadcasters off the air or remove them from their market.

“I didn’t envision that we would have the end result that a low-power television station would simply end up off the air,” Barton addressed to the Commissioners. “And so, I would like to ask the (FCC) Chairman and the other Commissioners if, in fact, you are willing to commit that low-power television stations that have acted in good faith -they understand that they might have to move, or be repacked -but I personally believe it’s not fair at all if the end result is that a low-power television station, that has been a good licensee, ends up totally off the air.”

FCC Chairman Genachowski replied to the Congressman that the question was not answered yet. “…it’s a difficult question which we have not answered yet and we look forward to working with you and getting very robust input from stakeholders as part of the process.”

Barton continued to press the issue for an agreement for LPTV protection. “But can we agree….as a Committee and a Commission that we are going to take steps that make sure that if a low-power station has operated in good faith and complied with its existing license, that we will make an effort to keep them on the air?”

“We will work with the LPTV Community,” Chairman Genachowski stated in his testimony. “We have an obligation, as has come up a number of times, to act within the statute. Certainly, keeping LPTV stations on-the-air where we can is something that makes sense, but at this point we haven’t made a proposal on this; we have an obligation to listen to the record, act consistent with the statute and we’ll continue to work with you, and the other members of the Committee, and the LPTV community to ultimately reach the goals of the statute some of which as you pointed out are in tension with each another.”

The Alliance believes the proposed Voluntary Incentive Auction as authorized by HR 3630 must protect the pre-auction spectrum usage rights of all LPTV & Translator operators.  It is understood that these Stations are considered “secondary” to Full Power and Class A services with regard to interference issues, and will therefore be ineligible to participate in the Auction.  Neither will they be compensated for expenses in moving to a different channel in their market should they create interference for a Full Power or Class A protected TV Broadcaster.  However, the licenses, and all current spectrum usage rights of LPTV licensees should be officially protected by HR3630 as enacted by Congress.

Rep. Barton’s questioning can be found: http://youtu.be/jtu0uZ6xB38

The Alliance especially thanks Congressman Barton for speaking up for LPTV operators around the nation that have been asking the question about their future,” says Lee Miller, Alliance Communications Director. “Thousands of communities stand to lose their local community channels, many of them “mom and pop” and minority broadcasters if the FCC is allowed to confiscate their channels without recourse.”

The Alliance is preparing comments to the Notice for Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding implementation of the Voluntary Inventive Auction and urges all LPTV operators to do the same.

Says Miller: “If the FCC has an open ear, it needs to hear from the LPTV industry.”

ABOUT

The Advanced Television Broadcasting Alliance is an industry organization comprised of low power television broadcasters, translators, full power television broadcasters and allied industry organizations and companies.  The goal of the Alliance is to preserve and promote the efficient and effective use of all television broadcast spectrum. Visit www.BroadcastingAlliance.org for more information and to join.

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