LPTV-NAB Word War Heats Up

In a March 11 letter to Tannenwald, NAB President and CEO David K. Rehr said CBA was slow in raising its concerns, is misleading the public and failing to cooperate with NAB’s efforts in the matter.
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NAB and the Community Broadcasters Association, which represents low-power, Class A and translator operators, are trading charges that the other is not behaving toward the greater mission of a successful digital transition for all viewers.

NAB took offense at comments from CBA attorney Peter Tannenwald that his group might “disrupt” DTV education efforts if low-power issues were not addressed. CBA has maintained that without the analog pass-through feature on the new coupon-eligible DTV converter boxes, viewers will be confused and end up losing access local channels.

In a March 11 letter to Tannenwald, NAB President and CEO David K. Rehr said CBA was slow in raising its concerns, is misleading the public and failing to cooperate with NAB’s efforts in the matter.

“I find it unfortunate that, as NAB and others are attempting to help address and solve the problem facing LPTV viewers, CBA lashes out with threats rather than working on solutions,” Rehr wrote.

Rehr outlined steps the NAB is taking for low-power viewers, including the creation of a “kit” for affected viewers that includes an A/B switch, extra cable and instructions, so those who purchase digital-only converter boxes can view the analog stations.

NAB is also launching a new Web site this month, LPTVAnswers.com.

Tannenwald responded March 13, calling the NAB on its campaign.

“We are not the ones running PSAs or posting signs saying that ‘all analog television will end’ in 2009, or your TV set ‘will not work’ without a converter box,” he wrote, adding that NAB has ignored a request from him to correct language in DTV Coalition materials.

Tannenwald also blasted the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which runs the converter box coupon program, for ignoring the All Channel Receiver Act, which requires TV receivers to pick up all available signals.

“LPTV operators are just as entitled as full power stations to compete for new viewers; and it is unfair, if not unlawful, for a government subsidy program to artificially curtail the scope of their market access,” he wrote.