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LPTV group threatens to sue over spectrum auction

The LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition — a new group with the goal of defending the spectrum rights of more than 6400 LPTV and TV Translators during the spectrum auction process — argues there is a lack of research on the impact to the LPTV industry by the Congressional legislation enabling the spectrum auction.

The group said if the government doesn’t act to rectify the issue, it might have to go to court to get attention for its problem. In a filing last week with the FCC, the coalition said it can’t leave its collective fate “to the whims of legal bureaucrats who do not in any way know our businesses,” referring to both members of Congress and the FCC.

“Without such a study being done prior to any final rule making and order, the coalition will be forced to initiate legal action,” it said.

In an earlier letter this summer to FCC chairwoman Mignon Clyburn, the coalition said it believes the lack of research is potentially a fatal flaw in the legislation, and as such could totally derail key FCC mandates for competition, consumer protection and promotion of diversity.

The coalition said it also believes that a violation of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMFA) may have occurred when both the Congressional Committees and the Congressional Budget Office did not officially authorize, produce and include in their research any study of the unfunded government mandate affects on the LPTV service by the proposed Spectrum Act legislation. This problem is being made even worse now with a lack of research by the FCC on the affects of the Spectrum Auction on the LPTV service, the group argued.

The coalition said it is pursing a public strategy to remedy this lack of adequate research related to the Spectrum Auction and LPTV. That strategy includes conducting its own industry-funded research; working with the appropriate Congressional Committees to introduce a “legislative fix” for LPTV; and submitting its own research and comments in the Spectrum Auction NPRM record.

“The lack of fundamental industry research and statistics about the LPTV service and how it will be affected in the Spectrum Auction and channel repacking process is the biggest impediment to providing a roadmap for the future of the LPTV service,” Mike Gravino, director of the coalition, said.

One of the coalition members, the Civic Media Advisors, has submitted NPRM Comments that show all LPTV stations will have to move in the channel repacking process, and that almost 50 percent will be totally displaced within their current cities of license and DMA.

The cost to these small business entities, the local and diverse communities they serve and the loss of all of the investment capital and opportunity they represent will severely impact their communities and which is contrary to the mission of the FCC, it said.