Research, Advocacy, and Lobbying Updates
Friday, September 5, 2014
The Coalition has just been informed by the FCC Incentive Auction Task Force and Media Bureau of two key LPTV items:  

1) The next phase of LPTV rule making related to the auction will be circulated next week to the Commissioners for a Sept. 30th approval.  There will then be a 30-day comment period and a 15-day reply comment period. While it is doable for the report and order to come this year, it most likely will be done in Q-1 2015.  There will also be rule making notices for Part-15 issues, the unlicensed spectrum, for wireless mic's, and for various interference issues.

2)  An official LPTV LEARN Session (Learn Everything About Reverse-Auctions Now) will be held during the Comments period of the upcoming Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making (FNPRM) for LPTV.  While the exact date is not available, we anticipate this important event to be held in October or November 2014.  The Coalition had offered to host this event, as it did in Las Vegas 
in April at the NAB Show, but we are glad the FCC has stepped up and is now giving LPTV their full attention for our very important rule making. The Coalition has been asked to help promote the event to the LPTV community and so here you go folks, get ready to answer the FNPRM questions, and watch the LEARN session webcast this fall. We will keep you posted on it.
The spectrum auction Report and Order was finally published in the Federal Register a few weeks ago, and that started the clock ticking on the filing of petitions and court cases.  We have been told that various LPTV licensees are preparing legal challenges, but at this time we can not exactly say what they will be and by whom.  We will report back when we know more.  We do think that cases for the 100 "orphaned" Class-A's (out-of-core) which were deemed ineligible for the auction is one potential cases, another could be the LPTV secondary status, and a third could be the lack of adequate data about LPTV used in the Congressional & FCC decision-making processes.  
It is truly a daunting event to show up to present the case for LPTV issues to 11 members of the FCC incentive spectrum auction Task Force.  You get 30 minutes to make your points and hopefully answer their questions.  This is just what happened in mid-August as the Coalition met with representatives of the Task Force, Office of Engineering, Video Division, Media Bureau, Wireless Bureau, and Office of Legislative Affairs through six keys issues which are now facing LPTV in the auction process.  Have no doubt about it, the Task Force is listening to what LPTV says, but whether they agree with it is another matter.  At least we are being full access into the process, and we get to bring up issues which in many cases the FCC has never known we were concerned about or affected by.  In baseball terms, this is small ball. But we need to get on the record all of these concerns.  Here is our ex parte filing of the event and presentation.
A week after meeting the Task Force we met with two key members of the FCC Chairman's staff.  We basically went over the same material and issues but this time we got to focus in on how LPTV can help the National Broadband Plan and the success of the Auction itself.  This is not to say we are still battling for our rights and to lessen the impacts on LPTV.  That is still our focus.  But at some point in the process, LPTV needs to make the positive case for how it can be of service to these national goals.  And this is just what we did. Here is our ex parte filing of the event and presentation.
LPTV is committed to helping Big Bird and his friends at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (the funders), the American Public Television Stations (the station licensees), and PBS (the content network) figure out how to both pay for their 500+ TV translator channel moves, and to make sure they have potential channel sharing partners if any of their affiliate licensees enter the auction.  We have had phone and in person meetings throughout the summer about these issues and will keep you informed.  If you want to learn more about what is going on with these issues check out this report and news article.
Some would have you believe that the LPTV industry is fragmented, that we are odds with each other, and that we need to present a united front.  Well let's put that puppy to sleep.  During the summer the Coalition has provided extensive and detailed briefings of its' activities, plans, and strategies to the Board of Directors of both the National Translator Association (NTA) and the Advanced Television Broadcasters Alliance (the Alliance).  These in depth written briefings have fully described to these organizations what the Coalition is doing on all of the LPTV issues, and what we plan to do going forward.  We explained all of our reasoning, provided results from our research, and requested that they do the same.  So far we have not received any briefings from them as to what they intend to do going forward.  Like the lawyers say, you can led the horse to water, but you can't make him drink.  Collaboration is a two-way street folks, and if one side wants to be in the sunshine, and the other is scared of exposing themselves, oh well.  
The Advanced Television Broadcasters Alliance (the Alliance), which says they have full power, LPTV, Translator, and manufacturers as members, submitted a petition back in early 2014 for a blanket waiver for LPTV construction permits to all be harmonized to September 2015. This is the current final analog to digital conversion date.  However, during the April 2014 Coalition Info-session at the NAB in which FCC Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake said that the Sept. 2015 date would be pushed back, and it would be discussed in an LPTV special rule making, the Alliance did not rescind its petition.  So the Media Bureau was forced to go through the process this summer.  The result was that there were only a few submissions into the Proceedings (13 of them for both comments and reply comments), and the all except one submission agreed
that the date needed to be pushed back.  The Coalition asked for a 50-month post auction push back so that the primary stations could complete their repack and the tower crews would be freed up. NAB said Sept. 2015.  Even the Alliance themselves said their own petition needed to be changed to a later date.    
Since it was started fifteen months ago, the Coalition has steadily grown to the point that it now represents over 150 LPTV licensees with more than 1000 licensed built stations and new construction permits.  We got over the 1000 mark with a new member which wants to remain anonymous.  That makes 143 public and 7 anonymous.  Unlike NTA and the Alliance, the Coalition is focused on all of the issues which affect LPTV licensees, and LPTV licensees only.  While we do have a few networks as members, they also own significant LPTV licenses and construction permits.  The Coalition is the only group to provide industry research and responses to all of the FCC NPRM questions about LPTV, and we have met with the FCC more than 30 times this past year to discuss, debate, and provide a deeper understanding of our issues.  Thanks folks, it has been quite a ride.  Join here!