Has the FCC declared war on TV broadcasters?
After consideration and study of the GN Docket No. 12-268 Report & Order released by the FCC this past Monday, the Advanced Television Broadcasting Alliance (ATBA) has voiced concern that the FCC has declared war on broadcasters, especially LPTV and Translator stations:
“The FCC is seemingly denying a significant amount of the nation free over-the-air television access in favor of providing well-funded wireless carriers with more spectrum for profit. The FCC in the R&O concluded that the concerns of broadcasters “are outweighed by the detrimental impact that protecting LPTV and TV translator stations would have on the repacking process and on the success of the incentive auction.”
“The Report and Order released on Monday shows that the FCC has declared war on Low Power Television (LPTV); and LPTV will not and cannot roll over just to save Chairman Wheelers incentive auction,” said Louis Libin, Executive Director of the ATBA. “The LPTV industry is a vibrant industry, a good contributor to the US economy as well as to the diverse, cultural, religious and rural audiences. In the R&O, the FCC has wrongly defined LPTV to a status below wireless. This is not a harmless auction; this is a completely poisonous auction to LPTV.”
The ATBA is troubled by the FCC position on LPTV in the R&O knowing that their actions “will result in some viewers losing the services of these stations, may strand the investments displaced LPTV and TV translator licensees have made in their existing facilities, and may cause displaced licensees that choose to move to a new channel to incur the cost of doing so.”
“While I was encouraged by the comments attached to the document by Commissioner Clyburn recognizing the value of LPTV and translators to the national dialogue – the basic intent of the document seems to place LPTV in a secondary class below what it has historically occupied,” said Rod Payne, ATBA Chairman and a station owner in Wichita Falls Texas. “The document shows a majority of the commission seemingly viewing LPTV as secondary even to wireless carriers – something one would think would require action outside of the Commission itself.”
The ATBA was also struck by the dissenting comments of Commissioner Pai who wrote, “As a result (of the auction as it is being proposed in this document) there is a greater risk that some Americans will be left without any over-the-air television service after the incentive auction. This is wrong.”
Dr. Randy Weiss, ATBA Board Member and LPTV owner expressed extreme concern over the R&O. “My wife and I invested in the construction of Christian LPTV stations to bring hope to the hopeless. Like every LPTV broadcaster, we had a very clear understanding of the FCC’S definition of “secondary status.” There was no mistake as to whom we were secondary–exclusively to Full Power TV stations. The agency and the industry operated with an unmistakable understanding within the Media Bureau of the FCC. It is unconscionable that the FCC would now try to redefine secondary status with the singular intent of enabling the confiscation of spectrum licensed to small broadcasters for the benefit of wireless monopolies. Such an overreach is malicious. No government institution should be permitted to quietly pull the rug out from Christian broadcasters or helpless community stations after we have invested our time and treasure to serve the public. It is time for the public to rise up and inform the FCC that they must protect LPTV and translator television stations.”
Payne continues, “This is indeed wrong. I can only hope for a grassroots movement of those in the industry, full, low-power and translators, along with associated manufacturers, programmers and more AND the people of this country coming together and telling the FCC, Congress and others that we are not going to stand by while the nation’s communication resources are sold to the highest bidders – most which have no incentive in serving the communities that will now be denied so much for the wants of a few well-financed corporations.”
“I call on everyone, both in this industry and those who it serves, to join together to send a re-sounding “NO” to this methodology.”
–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.