Doug Lung / RF Report
05.19.2014 10:38 AM
FCC’s Wheeler Outlines Plans for Post-Auction LPTV
Some encouragement offered for operators
Low-power television (LPTV is considered a secondary service, which means that primary users of the spectrum (until now, TV stations) could force them off their channels. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently painted a better future for LPTV stations—at least in rural areas—in a letter to Representative Steven Horsford. Horsford had earlier asked the Commission to consider the impact of the upcoming incentive auction on rural, over-the-air, low power TV (LPTV) and TV translator stations.
(LPTV licensees are also concerned that the FCC's plans for repacking UHF TV stations into less spectrum and auctioning off the rest to wireless companies would wipe out their stations, as the Spectrum Act offered no additional protection to low-power TV broadcasters.)
"LPTV and TV translators play an important role in providing information to consumers and businesses in rural communities," said Wheeler. In his letter, he noted: "I have recommended to my fellow Commissioners that we seek to clear a consistent amount of spectrum on a near-nationwide basis in the Incentive Auction, and not maximize the amount of spectrum recovered in rural areas. After the Incentive Auction, spectrum will remain available in many rural markets to accommodate LPTV and translator stations."
Many LPTV and translator stations serve small communities and have insufficient funding to pay for the channel changes some stations may require after repacking. Chairman Wheeler offered some encouragement, stating: "To help accommodate some of the needs of LPTV and translator stations following the auction, I have recommended to my fellow Commissioners that these stations be permitted to remain on their existing channels during the transition period after the Incentive Auction, unless or until notified they interfere with the primary service, and that we open a special filing window for displaced stations to request new channels."
Wheeler said the FCC will initiate a proceeding for addressing other LPTV and translator issues that are related to the incentive auction, stating that the proceeding would explore options for LPTV and TV translators to remain in serve their communities. Further the proceeding could include the seeking of comment on possible extension of the LPTV digital transition deadline, as well as on channel sharing for LPTV broadcasters.
It's too early to say whether Chairman Wheeler's recommendations will become law and how much spectrum will remain in rural areas, but at first look they offer at least some hope to operators of TV translators, LPTV stations and--although not mentioned in the letter--the future of rural TV band white space devices after the repacking.

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Posted by: William Carpenter
Tue, 05-20-2014 02:56 PM Report Comment
No mention of /new/ LPTV licenses. All of the re-pack should have SOME set-aside for new stations.
Posted by: Anonymous
Tue, 05-20-2014 01:25 PM Report Comment
The rural LPTV and translator talk is just a smokescreen for wiping out major market (Urban) LPTV stations. The urban stations serve diverse audiences and are vital to the overall fabric of TV offerings. Also, the rural LPTV stations are more likely to survive a repack; it is markets such as DC, NYC, etc. that the FCC wants to eliminate LPTV stations.
Posted by: Anonymous
Fri, 05-23-2014 05:06 PM Report Comment
I have spent my life savings and a decade of my life to become a LPTV broadcaster. It has been a long and difficult road due to the area near the border with Mexico. Now that I am "in" the FCC changes the rules by adding another "primary service" and shrinking the range of channels. What was a known legal situation risk factor, has become unknown. The FCC "our former spectrum protector" has become our persecutor. They will take our channels and sell them to cell companies so the cell companies can charge for broadcast! Does anyone else ever change the rules after the game has started? The FCC has betrayed our trust. Small businessmen will be crushed by the juggernaut of the cell companies with the FCC doing the dirty work. Repacking is stealing and eliminating, stifling expansion and innovation. There are almost no free channels now, so how can any new stations begin and how can we all fit where there is not enough room? How can we improve, expand and innovate and use new technologies if we have no spectrum? Why is this government produced fraud ok? Why are the cell companies putting their r&d of 5G research in the 3 to 30 gigahertz frequencies if they need our spectrum? They are perfecting the technology to use gigahertz frequencies for land use. Our channels will not support 5G speeds, so are our frequencies really what they need? Lookup 5g research and see. This is all wrong on many levels. Stop the FCC sponsored rip off.

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