JUNE 17, 2014

Long Awaited Republican LPTV and TV Translator Bill 
To Have A Hearing Next Week, Thursday July 24, 2014, 
In The House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee
Sponsored by Barton of Texas

"H.R. ____, the LPTV and Translator Preservation Act of 2014"

A BILL - To amend the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 to protect the spectrum usage rights of low-power television stations, television translator stations, and television booster stations, and for other purposes.  

(A)  IN GENERAL.- Nothing in this  section shall be construed to alter the spectrum usage rights of low-power television stations,  television translator stations,or television  booster stations.  (This was the original language for LPTV in the 2012 Act, and does not change)


(Congressman Barton then added this next section....)

(B)  PRESERVATION.-The Commission shall

(i)  consider the benefits of low-power television stations, television translator stations, and television booster stations to the communities of license of such stations;

(ii)  where possible, avoid the termination of a low-power television station, television translator station, or television booster station, as long as such avoidance does not adversely impact the reverse auction under subsection (a)(1) or the forward auction under subsection (c)(1); and

(iii)  after the completion of the reassignments and reallocations under paragaph (1)(B), permit any low-power television station, television translator station or television booster station to request to operate at reduced power or from a different transmitter location consistent with the Commission's rules, if such station would otherwise lose its license as a result of such reassignments or reallocations.

Our Commentary On This Bill
It is nice that any proposed piece of legislation is introduced about LPTV, and is the 2nd LPTV related Bill in two weeks, with Senator Durbin offering an amendment to the STELA legislation which expands the service area for LPTV to the DMA when cable MVPD are carrying them.  In this Barton House bill, the FCC shall have to consider the benefits of LPTV, well that is good, and we think they are in many ways already.  The original language in the Act does that pretty well.  

Now if this means that the CBO will score this bill, great,  But there are no financial parts to the bill so we doubt CBO will get involved, unless scoring the benefits of LPTV were to be done.  Although what we think it is more important to score the impacts on LPTV from the auction and repacking process. The door is open.

Next the bill says that the FCC shall where possible, avoid the termination of LPTV in the auction process, unless of course the auction process needs to do it to be successful,  WTF?  Would this proposed bill actually now empower the FCC to do what it needs to do to eliminate LPTV channels all in the name of a successful auction?  LPTV already has its' "right of displacement" and all kinds of other regulations in law.  We do not see that this language helps in any way at all, and might even harm LPTV.  But who are we to challenge the thinking of such learned legislators, especially the very ones that screwed LPTV over with the auction in the first place!

And finally we get to what is the most bizarre part of the proposed legislation.  It actually tells the FCC to consider having LPTV operate at lower power if that will save a channel allocation.  Now, what does this mean?  I have never heard a real LPTV operator say they want less power, they always say they want more power!  Heck, more power means a much better signal, doesn't it?  At least while we all are stuck with ATSC 1.0.  

Now if you look at the footer on the actual bill PDF, you can see that this proposed legislation has been written up in this form since June 11, 2014, some 65 days ago.  During that time we know that the not-to-be-named LPTV group has known all about this bill and was in on the writing of it. (we heard this week after our articles about them that they are sensitive, so we are being nice and not calling them out by name least we be not thought of as team players).  Again they have chosen to operate in the dark, did not even bother to ask anyone else including our members what they thought about this language. Lower power?  Yeah, right.

Next the bill says that LPTV may move to a different location if that would give them a better chance for a new channel.  Nice thought, and the FCC has already said in public that they would allow city of license changes, but did not want to allow DMA changes.  We intend on fighting this one out in the rule making this fall, but if the bill wanted a simple change, then that could be it.  But let's us not change the auction in any way, no Congress has already spent the money, so thanks Congressman for continuing to let LPTV just hang on by a thread.  How does that song go, "you gotta know when to hold them, and know when to fold them." 

We score them an "A" for getting a bill introduced into the Subcommittee, a real Hearing, but now the anti-LPTV groups (and they are all around us), they have something to shoot at with no trade to offer them for a cease fire.  And we give them a "D" for using language which may, although not for sure, but might actually limit LPTV spectrum usage rights.  And for not actually solving any real LPTV problems, and offering up even lower power as a solution to limited channel availabilities, well that gets an "F".  This scores out to a "D+" on our books, and we are keeping score

But hey, the Dems and other Repubs can now start to add to it, attack it, and just maybe a lively discussion about LPTV will take place.  Then again, we wonder who will be asked to testify about the bill next week?  The Repubs haven't called us yet.  Will let you all know if they do.

Here is the link to the Committee Hearing announcement and bill.. GO DUCKS!
Mike Gravino - Director
(202) 604-9747 - lptvcoalition@gmail.com
PO Box 15141 600 Pennsylvania Ave, SE
Washington, DC  20003