Low-power TV goes to Washington to stake claim in spectrum battle

The Coalition for Free TV and Broadband and the National Translator Association have joined to meet with members of a House subcommittee and the FCC in an effort to make sure that Class A TVs, LPTVs and TV translators are not forgotten in legislation involving the spectrum auction battle.

Representatives of the two organizations will meet with members of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, with the FCC, and with various public interest groups in order to make their case.

While all television broadcasters are concerned about the auctions and their viability after they are held, the situation is more problematic for low-power licensees. They are regarded by the FCC as providers of secondary television service and generally are not afforded the same protections as their full-power colleagues.

Irwin Podhajser, chairman of The Coalition For Free TV and Broadband, posed two choices for the future of low-power broadcasters.

“One choice is to continue the long tradition of free over-the-air television and to free up those stations to provide other services such as wireless broadband,” he said. “The other choice is to go down the path of handing over more and more control of spectrum to a few wireless monopolies.”

Byron St. Clair, president of the National Translator Association, said rebroadcast TV translators extend the service of primary TV stations to areas not directly served.

“TV translators are a life-line service delivering news, entertainment and emergency information to rural areas that urban TV stations cannot reach,” he said. “They are authorized on open channels between those used by the primary stations but with the loss of 18 channels from the TV band in conjunction with the digital transition, it is already difficult to find available channels, and any further loss of channels will result in a significant loss of TV service to rural America.”