Microsoft’s TV White Space Initiative Continues Threat to LPTV

In a trademark filing last week, Microsoft continues to strengthen their TV white space initiative, a push that continues to threaten Low Power TV and Translator stations causing a potential loss of lifeline broadcast TV programming for millions of viewers. Microsoft has been issued the trademark, AIRBAND, that was dated January 16, 2018, and is a service related to their use of TV White Space technology that was announced in July 2017.

The trademark pertains to two uses in the white space field. First, for “Computer hardware, software and software applications to provide internet connectivity services to white space telecommunications channels, networks and databases” and second for “Providing business information and consulting in the field of white space telecommunications and internet connectivity; promoting public interest and awareness of white space telecommunications and internet connectivity.” See filing here and here.

In July 2017, Microsoft’s president and chief legal counsel Brad Smith said, “Our goal is not to enter the telecommunications business ourselves or even to profit directly from these projects. We will invest in the upfront capital projects needed to expand broadband coverage, seek a revenue share from operators to recoup our investment, and then use these revenue proceeds to invest in additional projects to expand coverage further.”

Contrary to Microsoft’s discussions with legislators of this being a win for the country, the proposed set aside of three channels in the television broadcast bands will severely limit the rebuild of many Low Power TV and Translator stations displaced in the recent FCC incentive spectrum auction. Microsoft claimed in their July presentation and white paper that they were doing all of this for no direct profit.

“Microsoft is looking for a free ride on channels they could have purchased, channels that T-Mobile spent over $8 billion to buy and channels that broadcasters have spent untold billions to develop and maintain,” said Lee Miller, ATBA Communications Director. “If this was truly the case of philanthropic ideas in mind, Smith and Microsoft would partner with the newest FCC-approved ATSC 3.0 capacity of thousands of Full and Low Power TV stations and Translators across the country to deliver broadband and data technologies to connect rural and urban America.”

“It’s the height of arrogance for Microsoft — a $540 billion company — to demand free, unlicensed spectrum after refusing to bid on broadcast TV airwaves in the recent FCC incentive auction. Microsoft’s white space device development has been a well-documented, unmitigated failure. Policymakers should not be misled by slick Microsoft promises that threaten millions of viewers with loss of lifeline broadcast TV programming,” said NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton in a July statement.

After years of development, the ATSC 3.0 standard is now a realization with the November 2017 approval from the FCC. Along with Ultra High Definition TV and immersive audio, the new standard allows for IP transport, robust mobile reception, advanced emergency alerting and much more.

The Advanced Television Broadcasting Alliance is an industry organization comprised of over 2,000+ 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, including the permanence of Low Power Television and Translators. Visit www.BroadcastingAlliance.org for more information and to join.

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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