WASHINGTON—The spectrum repack could soon cause some LPTV stations to go off the air completely unless the FCC takes action in regards to alternative channels, per a letter from the National Association of Broadcasters to the Commission. The letter, from NAB’s Associate General Counsel Patrick McFadden to FCC Secretary Marlene H. Dortch, calls upon the FCC to allow for Special Temporary Authority for LPTV stations to operate on alternative channels in the event that they are displaced.
According to the rules of the repack, LPTVs and television translator stations must be notified by wireless licensees if they will cause interference to new 600 MHz operations, and be given 120 days to cease operations. As a result, the FCC’s Media Bureau was tasked with opening a limited displacement window for applications for new channels. That window is expected to open in early 2018.
McFadden wrote in the letter that until the window is opened, however, LPTVs will likely have no opportunity to remain on air using an alternate channel.
McFadden also pointed out that T-Mobile has begun notifying frequency coordinators and broadcasters that it intends to commence operations in 2017. Should the FCC move quickly to grant T-Mobile’s new licenses, LPTV and TV translators stations could be displaced in the next four or five months, “with no possibility of operating on an alternative channel—even if channels are available,” McFadden wrote.
“The Commission can help preserve service to viewers by allowing displaced translator and LPTV stations to apply for Special Temporary Authority to operate on alternative channels until the FCC processes displacement applications,” McFadden continued. “While this approach may not help in every case, it would at least allow displaced stations an opportunity to stay on the air where channels are available. We urge the Commission to take this step, and consider other remedies, to mitigate the harm to viewers of displaced stations.”