Representing the spectrum usage rights of more than 140 LPTV FCC licensed broadcasters and supporting industry partners with more than 900 built stations and new construction permits in all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico.  Join us today to protect the future of LPTV!
June 23, 2014 - In This Issue:

Congress is in session until the end of July and back in September for only short periods of time until the mid-term elections the beginning of November. 
August is going to be the best time to have personal contact with your members of the House  of Representatives and those Senators running for re-election.  If you want the Coalition can help craft a special package of information about the impacts of the spectrum auction on your station and the LPTV industry. 

We recommend this local contact approach as it is the best alternative to having to raise a lot of campaign donations.  The more and better the House and Senator members know you and your station the better it is very our collective messaging.  LEARN MORE

Coalition Membership

Membership in our Coalition is free for all LD, LP, and TX licensees.
We do charge a $100.00 annual fee for Class-A stations since many of them are auction eligible.  But heck, we found out a few weeks ago when the Incentive Spectrum Auction Report and Order came out that over 100 Class-A's will not be able to participate in the auction because of when they filed for their Class-A status.  Add to that the over 50 which have been demoted to LD/LP status, and we figured they needed a deal also. 

So for the time being, ALL LPTV licensees can join for free!

All we ask for in return from you are two things:

1)  We get to list your call-signs on our Members page (both built and construction permits), and,

2)  That you order at some point during the year one of our Auction Impact Studies, and/or Industry Advocacy Campaigns.

What you get in return is satisfaction that the LPTV industry has "boots on the ground in DC" and an experienced LPTV advocate who has "skin in the game".  Our Director, Mike Gravino, has for many years been part of LPTV as a channel developer, station manager, and investor.  And he is used to "speaking truth to power" at the FCC and in the halls of Congress.

What you also get are as they happen breaking news emails, weekly summaries like this email which take you through what is happening which affects LPTV, and cutting edge research before anyone else gets to benefit from it.

We also provide licensees and industry members with direct lobbying and representation at the FCC and in Congress.  But we work along side of your communications counsel and consulting engineers. Anyway we can help support your business here in DC we will.  And some members even have us helping them back in their own communities with innovative programming concepts, state legislative proposals, and viewer engagement projects.

The Coalition is not a formal trade association just yet.  It is a loose group of concerned LPTV licensees and supporting industry members who give to the Director their permission to thoughtfully and most importantly, rapidly react to the changes and challenges being brought against LPTV every day here in DC.  We listen to your concerns and we try to chart a course which can work for all.


Beginning in July we will be offering weekly webinars free to our members and for a small fee to non-members. These will be archived for later on-demand viewing also.  It is essential during the next phase of LPTV rule-making related to the spectrum auction that we all engage in the process.

For those of you not familiar with our website Resources page we urge to go to it and learn what you can about LPTV.  We will be launching an entire new website in July but will retain almost all of the content since we have heard from you all that it is a vital part of our services.

A new service we are just starting to offer is License, Station, and Construction Permit brokering. 
Many of you have asked us to do this for you, and so we decided to help. 
The new website will have a lot of information about this so stay tuned.

One area the Coalition has invested a lot of time, energy, and money into is our Big Data Project. With assistance from one of the big consulting engineering companies we have been taking the FCC CDBS system LPTV content and doing various slicing and dicing of the data to show unique new perspectives on our industry.  

In order to give the FCC a more accurate analysis of the LPTV community we are conducting a survey this summer to provide answers to key questions.  When you get the request to participate we urge you to take the few minutes it will take to answer the questions.  The FCC does not spend any money on researching and surveying LPTV oter then their yearly report, so it is up to us to get the data and help the FCC and Congress understand our industry.

We use this data in our presentations to the FCC and Congress.  Members have been supporting it whenever we need more funds to move it forward. And we will soon again need more fund as we build-out our new mapping service which will be available for our members.  We hope to have this all working by the fall in time to use it for the LPTV rule making presentations.

During the past year the Coalition has been quoted and featured dozens of times in the national trade press.  We are often asked for comments and to provide background and research for articles.  Our industry research has been used many times for FCC submissions and Congressional testimony, and our policy positions are now being quoted by others in their own reports.

We have pulled together a team of experts in LPTV from among the licensees, the networks, the manufacturers, and the professional service providers.  We consult on almost a daily basis with your colleagues across the country and always welcome your ideas, suggestions, and comments.

The incentive spectrum auction is still more than 18 months in the future, and the first LPTV displacement window is more than 24 months from now at the earliest. But the new rules LPTV will be operating under for the next 5 years will be written in the next 120 days.  So please join our Coalition and help shape the future of the LPTV industry and your own future business and investments. Join Today!
FCC begins to process 100's of pending app's
The FCC Media Bureau Video Division (you know, the folks LPTV deals with all of the time), well they are working hard this summer to get out as many pending applications into actual Construction Permits.  With the Incentive Spectrum Auction fast approaching, and a yet-to-be-determined build-by date for all construction permits which want to be built before the auction, a new list of CP's was issued today.  
We find out more about the process
We have learned from the FCC Media Bureau that the LPTV-specific rule making for the incentive spectrum auction will take place later this summer and fall.  The July Commissioners Open Meeting agenda just came out and we do not see any agenda item for it then in mid-July, but under the sunshine laws the FCC has plenty of time to include it.  This leads us to believe it might take all the way to August to be released.  Will let you all know whenever we here any more details. The Coalition is developing a list of questions which we think need to be answered in addition to the original list from the NPRM.  If you would like to review our list and make suggestions to it visit this link and add to the discussion.  Rule Making Questions
Is there cause for an appeal or class-action?
When the spectrum auction Report & Order was finally released there were loud gasps heard across the country from more than 100 pending and active Class-A licensees as they learned that they did not qualify for the auction.  Add to them the more than 45 former Class-A licensees which have been demoted to LD status for not paying fees related to improper filings, and you start to see a pattern developing.  We have heard from many Class-A applicants who are upset that one Class-A licensee was signaled out for special treatment and approval in the Report and Order. We expect some sort of combined appeal and legal action from those who were denied auction eligibility. 
Investment bankers to assist FCC make case
TVNewsCheck reports that, "The FCC has hired an investment banking firm to help develop educational material to use to persuade broadcasters to participate in the agency's incentive auction next year, clearing the way for the agency to beef up its station outreach efforts later this summer, according to an agency official. The banking firm tapped, according to the FCC official, is New York-based Greenhill & Co."  So Coalition members which are auction-eligible be prepared for the hard sell from the FCC about entering the auction.  Learn More
LPTV begins to make its' case in Congress
STELA, the Satellite Television Reauthorization Act, in both of its House and Senate versions, is working its way through Congress this summer.  It has to be passed by the end of the year, so there is a lot of action around it.  So far the broadcasters have fought back on the use of it for retransmission reform, but it still might be a vehicle for some sort of LPTV relief.  The Coalition submitted a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee about three key things which LPTV needed in the bill.  UPDATE:  The STELA bill in the Judiciary Committee has been now held over  Wonder if our submission at anything to do with it!  Learn More
Coalition request helps to clarify major issue
Back in April a Coalition member with a station right on the USA-Mexico border had visited the FCC to inquire about how the post auction border coordination would work.  They learned that the process would be different than they had already done during the DTV transition.  They were concerned.  So after the R&O was voted on we make an inquiry with the International Division.  Here is their reply, which basically says that the FCC will be doing it. Learn More
Could it lead to free or low-cost cable carriage?
There is a legal case regarding an LPTV station and a huge overcharging of cable leased access rates.  If the LPTV station wins the case, it could pave the way for all LPTV stations in a market obtaining almost free cable leased access.  Then again they could lose. This also has a huge impact on how LPTV could be treated in the proposed new merged Comcast-Time Warner.  If you have had any negative experiences in obtaining leased access channels or have been denied must-carry status by these companies let us know.  Learn More
Translators ask for their own relief in Congress
TV translators are one of the major licensee groups within the LPTV service.  There are actually more of them, especially in the highly rural western states, than all of the urban low power digital stations.  When they were analog they were the only way many primary station could get its signal well beyond its own contour.  During the DTV transition the translators got themselves funds for completing the transition.  But in the spectrum auction act they did not get any special priority or compensation.  Now that the final rule making is being completed for the auction the translators are upset that they might have to pay for their own relocation like the urban LDs will. 

The translators are not all the same, with many now operated by civic and government groups, as well as the traditional PBS translators and the ones affiliated with the primary stations. The civic and government owned ones actually pay in most cases a retransmission fee to the primary stations, which as far as the Coalition is concerned makes them an LD.  And they are increasingly starting to air numerous digital sub-channels just like an urban LD.  Another consideration is that the FCC does not monitor all of this and many translator designations are really LDs.  The Coalition is against any special relief just for translators unless there is also funding for the urban LDs.
Post-auction PBS coverage gaps & LPTV
The PBS network local affiliate stations are owned by many different types of organizations such as universities, local non-profits, and faith-based groups.  PBS stations are almost exclusively primary NCE stations which qualify for cable and satellite MVPD must-carry status, and as such are all auction eligible.  At the last minute the trade association for these stations, APTS, and their public funding group, CPB, tried to have the FCC ban any local affiliate which wanted to sell their spectrum in the auction because this would create void in their national coverage.  

At a meeting with the FCC Chairman, NAB, PBS and other groups including the Coalition, we offered LPTV stations as local PBS affiliates if they could work out the MVPD must-carry issue, and of course the LPTV stations could get a channel lease payment. We have reached out to their leadership here in DC but they do not want to talk with us any further since we oppose any special relief for their translators.   Learn More
Big stations now using LPTV business model
During its analog days LPTV worked with programming networks to pioneer niche audience channels.  But when the DTV transition was complete the primary full power stations started to pick off the most successful of these networks.  Now a new group of over 150 networks are seeking LPTV affiliates. TVNewsCheck takes a deep dive into the top-25 digital subchannel networks in this 2-part article.  A good primer for those wanting to see what is out there to carry and what may be your local competition, Learn More
The first of many pre-auction LPTV directives
From the FCC on June 11, 2014: "the Media Bureau announces a freeze on the filing of applications for digital replacement translator (DRT) stations and displacement applications for low power television (LPTV), TV translator, and Class A television stations pursuant to sections 73.3572(a)(4) and 74.787(a)(4) of the Commission's rules. Because the digital transition was largely completed five years ago, in June 2009, and the Bureau issued a Freeze PN on April 5, 2013, imposing limitations on the filing and processing of certain applications by full power and Class A television stations, there should be little occasion for new DRT and displacement applications to be filed. 

In addition, Class A television stations were subject to displacement only as the result of "engineering solutions" by full power stations to resolve "technical problems" in replicating and maximizing the full power station's DTV service areas during the DTV transition. Consequently, the impact of this freeze on the LPTV, TV translator, and Class A services should be minimal."  Read an analysis of this from Broadcast Law Blog.  
So what does LPTV get for its $1.5 million/yr?
The FCC issued an NPRM for a new fee schedule, although it did not really change the LPTV rates all that much from $410 to $420 per year. What we found interesting is that the LPTV licensees pay about $1.5 million a year in fees (and an untold amount in fines).  So what does LPTV get for this?  No way to tell as this type of analysis is not ever given out.  For a good explanation of this NPRM please see this Broadcast Law Blog report:  Learn More
Check out the subject matter experts to contact
The FCC's Media Bureau just updated their internal subject matter expert contact list, so if you need a specific question asked this list is the place to turn to.  The Coalition can help you with a lot of this, but it is your business, so learn to ask the right questions of the correct people and you may just be surprised at your capability to learn something new.  If you find out an exciting new development make sure to share it with the rest of us!.  Learn More
Now 80-years old and in need of a big update
The US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, has an on line campaign,"#CommActUpdate" to update the 80-year old Communications Act.  What this all means for LPTV is that the Committee is now open to hearing about anything LPTV.  Here is a good article about the initiative.  These are the legislators which gave us the Incentive Spectrum Auction and the $1 billion LPTV unfunded mandate. Learn More
Industry experts use Coalition Total-OTA model
From TV Technology..."What becomes of big-stick TV? It's an increasingly relevant question as the second auction of a significant chunk of the television spectrum approaches. Jerry Whitaker of the ATSC, Mark Aitken of Sinclair, Michael Bergman of the CEA and Jeff Weber of 2door partners took it on at the second annual Entertainment Technology in the Internet Age conference at Stanford University.".  What this means for LPTV remains to be seen.  Learn More
LPTV signals could be dramatically affected
One of the key issues in the spectrum auction rule making is how to identify and measure the interference produced by LTE systems in DTV broadcasts. The FCC OET has asked for a new discussion about this. What it all means for LPTV?  Well just how this is all measured and negotiated could mean the difference between LPTV having open channels or not. 
LPTV awaits to see if it was heard by SCOTUS
Everyone anticipates that the Supreme Court will issue a decision this week in the Aereo case. LPTV has a dog in this hunt, as a few LPTV licensees participated in the case.  Here is a good overview by CNN Money.   Learn More
Verizon wants DISH TV's 700-MHz spectrum
While the big news is that Verizon is now very interested in purchasing the DISH 700-MHz H Block spectrum, which was used in the past by LPTV, the bigger news is what it can be used for. Check out this article from a few months ago which goes into detail of what DISH and now Verizon could do with the spectrum, like offer a 150-Mbps LTE Broadcast service.
Spectrum auction proceeds tax issue is key
Wells Fargo Securities took their covered wagon train to DC a few weeks ago to see what was happening around town related to broadcast, the spectrum auctions, and all things digital. Their basic analysis is that the FCC is moving the ball down the field and that the IRS is negotiating to get their fair share of the auction profits. For you Class-A auction-eligible licensees you might learn something new here.  Learn More
For those current Coalition members we really appreciate you working with us during this past year.  While we have not yet won the war to completely protect our spectrum usage rights, we have certainly had a positive impact on the process.  And we are now prepared to help craft our own rule making.  And for those of your who are new to this effort we welcome you to join and help the LPTV bring a huge collective voice to the policy debates which dictate and shape how we run our businesses.  If you have any comments or question please let us know and we will try to get them answered for you.


Mike Gravino

(202) 604-0747

Did you know that is costs $15,000 to have a 1-hr breakfast alone with the Chairman of one of the relevant Committees in the Congress, or $25,000 for a dinner?  This is not the type of lobbying we do at all.  We research, we advocate, and we lobby with our ideas directly to all members of Congress, but the best approach is for you to do it yourself right there in your local community.  Just ask your member of Congress for a meeting when they are back in the District this summer and fall. The Coalition will help you put together a great package of LPTV content and help tell your story! 

Walking the picket line in April at the FCC with the Occupy the FCC protesters.  The protesters were sponsored by the same non-profits which have been asking for unused LPTV spectrum to be repurposed for unlicensed use by Google, Microsoft, TIme Warner, Comcast and others. When the protesters heard the real LPTV story about how we are small businesses and the most diverse of all broadcast groups they started to relate.  Imagine 100 LPTV licensees doing this the day of a Commissioners Open Meeting!