LPTVs Lobby for Digital Transition Relief

WASHINGTON—Low-power TV stations are asking to get out from under a digital transition deadline requiring them build new facilities potentially rendered useless by next year’s spectrum incentive auction. The Advanced Television Broadcasting Alliance has requested a blanket extension or waiver of the Sept. 1, 2015 deadline for LPTV licensees to construct digital facilities. The incentive auction tentatively will take place next June. Non-Class A LPTVs will not be guaranteed a spot in the post-auction channel repacking.

“The commission has acknowledged consistently that requiring LPTV licensees to construct facilities that may be eliminated in repacking after the broadcast spectrum auction… makes no sense,” ATBA said in its petition to the FCC for an extension or waiver. “Without an extension of the applicable construction deadline, an LPTV permittee would have to build facilities that may be unusable after 2015.”

The ATBA, which represents 700 LPTVs, “hundreds of translators” and around 100 full-power stations, reasoned that the commission likely will be inundated with hundreds of individual waiver requests between now and the current Sept. 1, 2015 deadline, that it would to evaluate case-by-base. The commission’s Media Bureau has acknowledged granting more than 650 six-month construction deadline extensions, one at a time.

The commission is taking the petition under consideration and is now seeking comments via Docket. No. 03-185. The comment deadline is Aug. 14, 2014. Replies are due Aug. 29, 2014.