Border State Democrats Call for Transparency From FCC on Channel Repacking

WASHINGTON – Three Washington lawmakers are concerned about losing TV station signals in their state in the next channel repacking prompted by the spectrum incentive auctions. In a letter addressed to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, they noted that channel reassignment in the Northern border states must be coordinated with Canada as per treaty obligations.

“There are 37 full-power TV stations in Washington State,” wrote Reps. Jim McDermott, Norman Dicks and Adam Smith, all Democrats from Washington. “As many as 14 of these could have no place to be relocated when repacking occurs, meaning that they could be forced to cut power and lose viewers. Of the 17 full-power stations in the Seattle/Tacoma market, as many as 10 could have no place to go. In Spokane, of the10 stations in that market, four of them could be forced to move and cut their power and viewership. This could be harmful for the stations and the people who invest in them, but devastating to the hundreds of thousands of people that rely on free, over-the-air television.”

The FCC must conduct its spectrum auction proceeding “as openly and transparently as possible,” they said. “We therefore request that the commission commit itself to a transparent process, promptly disclosing, on an ongoing basis, all the information it has available with respect to any new band plan it may adopt.”

The lawmakers also asked to be informed of any contact FCC staff have with Canadian authorities with regard to the repack. They also urged the commission to work with the Washington State Broadcasters Association and the National Association of Broadcasters “as this process unfolds.”