Plan Will Destroy Community TV Stations: ATBA Offers a Better Way for Microsoft

The Advanced Television Broadcasting Alliance (ATBA) commends Microsoft President Brad Smith’s goal of broadband to all of rural America in the next five years. Unfortunately, the current plan laid out by Microsoft will destroy hundreds of community broadcast stations that serve the public interest of millions of Americans. The ATBA proposes a simple and much better way to accomplish this goal by first allowing the current repacking and displacement process to be finalized over the already legislated time to complete this complex process.

The completion of the recent Voluntary Incentive Auction (VIA) in April of this year closed out an eight-year period of regulatory uncertainty for all broadcasters. Once all existing broadcast licensees and previously approved construction permit holders have been granted their Congressional authorized rights of displacement, the available spectrum for TV White Space users will be known nationwide.  Any disruption of the existing and orderly process as being managed by the FCC at present will only create unnecessary delays and harm to the public.

There is a synergy of opportunity for broadcast television stations and Microsoft to work together to bring about this ambitious goal. After years of being stranded behind an obsolete digital television standard, the broadcast industry and the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is nearing final approval of the new ATSC 3.0 broadcasting standard that is fully IP based and provides both mobile and fixed reception. TV White Space (TVWS) is an excellent partner to ATSC 3.0 services, but is no replacement for its powerful licensed capabilities.  Spectrum use is paramount to this goal and Low-Power Television Stations and Translators are uniquely positioned to accelerate the mission of bringing broadband coverage to all Americans.

“Television has been a staple of American life for almost a century, improving people’s lives and changing their futures,” says Lee Miller, ATBA Communications Director. “As Low Power Television and Translators brought television to rural areas, they are uniquely positioned to again change the landscape of technology with the adoption and deployment of ATSC 3.0 that brings more potential for autonomous vehicles, augmented reality learning, broadband data services, IoT management and access to state of the art education and healthcare to all through data delivery.”

Microsoft’s Smith in Tuesday’s Media Institute Communications Forum Luncheon expressed a target to have a set-aside of three broadcast channels for exclusive white space use. With a dialogue and partnership with broadcast television through LPTV’s represented trade organization, Advanced Television Broadcasting Alliance, a collaboration can realize a greater conveyance of Microsoft’s mission without a premature set-aside of this important broadcast television spectrum for unlicensed deployment.

Miller continues, “Microsoft had the opportunity to bid and purchase spectrum for this expanded use in the recent VIA. They are now using their power and influence to reallocate spectrum to launch their proprietary corporate vision for broadband service expansion at the expense of the incumbent licensees who have been long delayed in bringing their public interest services to market. Few organizations are better positioned to participate in the Microsoft vision for delivery of rural broadband services than the LPTV and Translator operators, who already exist to serve their local markets.  The very type of organizations Microsoft says they want to work with throughout rural America.  We continue to call for the FCC to close the Vacant Channel proceedings, give protection to current LPTV and Translators, and proceed with ATSC 3.0 adoption to let the marketplace excel in technology advancement.”

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, and stands ready to actively cooperate with Microsoft’s TVWS initiative post the completion of the current repacking and displacement process.

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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 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