Tuesday - 12/23/14

Coalition Meets Incentive Auction Task Force
Last Friday, the 19th, the Coalition had yet another meeting with the FCC Incentive Auction Task Force to discuss pressing LPTV issues and the current and impacts of the auction on our industry.  The Task Force brought their A-team including their Chairman, Vice-Chairman, the Media Bureau Chief, the Video Division Chief, and other senior staff.  The Coalition brought its' Director, and two well-known to the FCC legal counsel representing three members with more than 150 stations and construction permits.  

An ex parte filing was posted yesterday and we urge you to read to it, as it is filled with lots of updates and key new data points to consider.  Topics such as the lack of an LPTV economic impact study, still no list of the 100+ Class-A's not eligible for the auction, Puerto Rico and the territories in the auction, the Petitions for Reconsideration completion schedule (sometime in later Q1-2015), the upcoming LPTV LEARN session (mid February), the sizing of the guard bands, the non-linkage between the FCC DMA interference simulations and the Greenhill Book, and why the FCC should conduct simulations now for the LPTV repack.  

These two diagrams were also used in the meeting and can be downloaded here...

Broadcasters Seek New Auction Schedule
John Eggerton over at Broadcasting & Cable penned a piece yesterday which we think you should read about how many in the broadcast industry (including the Coalition) think that the FCC needs to take a deep breath, slow down, take into consideration the highly successful AWS reality, and not to rush head long into the incentive auction just yet.  We all agree a successful auction which lessens the impacts on broadcasters is better than one that is delayed for years from the legal challenges of a harmful auction design. 

Today is the deadline for the Court of Appeals filings related to the NAB and Sinclair combined case, which will get into the action this winter and spring. We know that these cases forced the FCC to push back the auction until early 2016 at the earliest.  So later this spring when the LPTV court cases are filed, that early 2016 date, will, just on the mechanics of the court processes, get the auction start pushed back until late 2016.  So it is then an easy hop over to a 2017 auction date with any other delays, court wins, and other industry actions.


Make sure to make your contribution to our industry's common legal defense, and be part of the movement to save LPTV.  Unless we fight the auction rules and regulations now, and in court in 2015, we will not have a lot of spectrum remaining to displace and rebuild into in 2016-2020.  

AWS-3 Auction Slows Down But Goes Over $44 Billion
Of special interest to broadcasters and the LPTV industry is the financial success the FCC is having with the relatively small amount of spectrum for lease in the AWS-3 auction.  Here is the latest update from our friends over at RCR Wireless.  What this all means for the Incentive Auction is that a simple auction of a nationwide channels 51-38 could bring in far more funds than previously thought, and could preserve 36 and below for TV and the much anticipated ATSC 3.0.  

Wells Fargo's Take On The AWS Auction

A new report (via Fierce Wireless) from Wells Fargo analysts highlights just how important major U.S. metro markets are for wireless carriers. The report shows that AWS-3 spectrum license prices for the top three U.S. markets are 94 percent above the average prices in the auction.


"Using FCC data, we estimate the three largest U.S. cities are going for a price of $4.29 per MHz/POP (including paired and unpaired)--or 94% above the average price," Wells Fargo analysts Jennifer Fritzsche, Caleb Stein and Eric Luebchow wrote in a research note. "We note the bidding in these key markets has slowed in terms of activity. For example, in NYC, there has been no bidding since round number 64." The three largest markets are New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Spectrum Financial Partners, LLC has been providing a round-by-round analysis of the auction.  Here is one of their latest analyses of what is going on.

T-Mobile Claims To Be The Little Guy
This article which came out yesterday about how T-Mobile is pressing its case as the "little guy", and needing special set-asides of spectrum in the incentive auction process.  Would be nice if they even acknowledged that the spectrum they want is coming from the real small businesses, LPTV!

FCC Public Notice For Comments On Incentive Auction Bidding Process
Now if you really want some heavy and dense reading over the holidays, or would rather just print out this large document and then burn it in the fireplace as an offering to the spectrum guardians, then this is the one thing to read.  Then again, it is filled with a lot of very interesting data points for LPTV.  We are only a few pages into it and we needed to spike the eggnog before we went any further, but we hope to have an analysis for you in the new year.

Repacking Plan Could Scatter UHF Stations
Doug Lund, from TV Technology and RF Report, writes a piece about how the FCC is now proposing a new band plan which could end up putting TV stations within the incentive auction duplex gaps and guard bands.  Strange concept but one that may have been put out to get both the sellers and buyers in the auction to think twice about messing with the FCC.  If true, this could spell DOOM & GLOOM to many LPTV licensees.

Is The FCC Low Balling The Auction Values?
The staff at TVNewscheck reports..."The Preston Padden-led Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition says the FCC's proposed pricing formula for the 2016 incentive auction is based 50% on the interference-free population that a station serves. This component, EOBC says "is completely irrelevant to a station's interference or 'blocking' profile and is included in the formula for one reason - to drive down prices." 

This is an important conversation for the LPTV Class-A licensees which are auction eligible, so we are providing the link to both the article, and to the charts which EOBC has provided.

LPTV and LPFM Operator Goes To Court
RadioSurvivor.com reports that the Hispanic Christian Community Network (HCCN), well known in both the LPTV (24 stations and CPs) and LPFM (over 245 applications), is be taken to court related to its Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the Northern District of Texas Dallas Division on November 11, 2014.  It is a tough operating environment out there folks, and we will be following this case to see how it goes.

Comcast and Time Warner Merger Update
National Journal reports today...

FCC SCOLDS TWC OVER MISSING DOCUMENTS: The FCC on Monday extended the timeline once again for its review of Comcast's $45 billion bid to buy Time Warner Cable. The three-week delay is due to the fact that TWC failed to turn over thousands of documents relevant to the investigation. In a letter to the cable companies, the FCC explained that "sections of the review that staff had thought were complete now must be reopened to take account of the additional documents that have been disclosed."


In a statement, TWC said the delay is a "procedural one, not a substantive one." Comcast said the additional documents will be made available in "an expedited manner" and that the companies are still expecting to get approval in early 2015.


Today is the deadline for the comments. Although the FCC stopped the clock on the cable deal, it did not extend today's deadline for reply comments. Dish Network, a leading critic of the merger, filed its comments  on Monday, warning that no possible conditions could make the merger acceptable. "Everyone who likes to watch high-quality online video has particular reason to worry about the proposed merger," Jeff Blum, Dish's deputy general counsel, said in a statement.


Consumers Union and Public Knowledge also filed comments opposed to the merger. Comcast plans to file its defense today.   



Coalition Joins "Stop Mega Comcast Coalition"

We decided to join in the effort to stop the Comcast and Time Warner merge organized by many public interest groups.  Neither of these MVPD have been real friends to ALL LPTV, just selected parts of our industry.  And remember, the FCC decided to not provide discovery of the cable must carry, leased access, and retransmission contracts which the merger partners have with LPTV across the country, despite overwhelming evidence that LPTV would be harmed by the merger.

Stop Mega Comcast Coalition 

A very merry holiday season to you all.  We will file another issue just before new year's.  You should be working on your LPTV NPRM Comments! They are due by January 12th.  Let us know if you need any research or help with the process.

We Got Your Back LPTV!

Mike Gravino
LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition
(202) 604-0747