Next Friday, October 17th, the FCC Commissioners, during their Open Meeting, have on the agenda the future LPTV. Time to wake up folks.

Who Says LPTV Are Not Major Players!
WNBJ-LD, in Jackson, southwest of Nashville in western Tennessee, has become an official NBC affiliate.  They join the ranks of close to 100 LPTV stations which are major network affiliates across the country.  It is relying on a Memphis television station for its NBC programming but that soon will change. According to The Jackson Sun, WNBJ-LD is about to become the local source for NBC programming in Jackson, and will join on the dial all of the other major networks in Jackson.  According to the FCC the station is officially licensed to operate on Channel 16.  Jackson is ranked #177 by Nielsen. The license was acquired as a construction permit in April 2014 by Jackson TV LLC, headed by Michael Reed. Its calls at the time were W16DE-D. The seller was Dean M. Mosely, known to long time LPTV licensees as the father of the LPTV Digital Data Services Act of 1999. We hear Dean has been selling off many of the CPs he still owns, but is holding on dearly to the DDSA stations and new permits he still has counting on their flexible use authority to pay off at some point.

State of the App Economy 2014

We thought you would like to see how the big players promote a small issue into one which is an overriding battle cry for more spectrum.

Check out this slick presentation

How the Lack of Radio Frequency Radiation Safety 

Impacts the Wireless Industry

I was up at our transmitter site the other day (yes I am actually a broadcaster like many of you are), and at one point the hair on my neck stood up. We are co-located at a major network transmitter site and there is one heck of a lot of RF up there, as there is with most sites.  This got me to do some thinking about RF exposure and I thought it might be useful to just pass on some info to you all, that is, those of you who actually go to the sites which make the magic we call TV.  


How the Lack of Radio Frequency Radiation Safety Impacts the Wireless Industry


Frequently asked questions about the safety of radio frequency (RF) and microwave emissions from transmitters and facilities regulated by the FCC



For further information on these (and other) topics please refer to OET Bulletin 56. You may also contact the FCC's RF Safety Program atrfsafety@fcc.gov or 1-888-225-5322

Join House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden and discuss the anticipated rewriting of the Communications Act.  Yes folks, they want to rewrite the Act itself.  Oh well, after giving us the Auction legislation we either should storm the hashtag site or simply give up now.  But it just may be the opportunity for LPTV to become primary, get must-carry and mandatory retransmission, and just maybe flexible use.

An Update on Process Reform Efforts to Reduce Backlog 

Diane Cornell, Special Counsel to FCC Chairman Wheeler issued a progress statement about the efforts within the FCC to reduce the backlog of agendas, dockets, etc.  However, these efforts have not done much for LPTV as of yet. Our Sept 30, 2014 CDBS dump of all Class-A, LPTV, and TV translator records shows that over 2200 pending and outstanding Applications.  This shows that the reform efforts of the FCC have not yet made it to the Video Division of the Media Bureau.

Did You Know?  

That 79 of the 210 TV DMA will have no Class-A Auction Participation

And The FCC (and Congress) Will Make It's Money In Those DMA Off The Backs Of LPTV In Those (And All) Markets!  Ya Gotta Read The Small Print Details And Footnotes Folks...

LPTV 3rd NPRM Review

Don't forget to read the 2012 LPTV proposed rule making questions, so that you are prepared for the new NPRM coming next Friday.  We know for sure these questions will be in there since they were in the original rule making and not answered in the June Report & Order.


Pushing Back the Class-A and LPTV build-by date in 2015

Both auction eligible Class-A stations and LPTV stations with construction permits which have not yet built out their new digital facilities must both build their new digital facilities by a cut-off date in 2015.  For Class-A's this is the date you must build by in order to qualify to get into the auction, and for LPTV this is the date to build your digital facilities in order to qualify for displacement, if that happens to you.  We do not know the calendar date, as it is a process-driven date.  What we do know is that it will between the end of March and the end of June 2015.  

The FCC in the auction calendar which came out in June said it will be giving a 90-day notice of the cut-off date to qualify.  The Coalition this week alerted the Auction Task Force to the fact that in the northern states winter will slow down and literally stop most all tall and small tower work for months, and that they needed to make sure the backlog of Class-A's and LPTV which want to build, have the time to do it. This is just a small example of how the repack will be challenged to get done many hundreds of channel moves in 39 months, never mind thousands of LPTV moves. We hope that next week's Suspension Public Notice for LPTV construction permits takes this into account. 


FCC Denies Petition for Amateur Radio Assignment Inside TV Channel 4Based on data compiled by the Commission's Media Bureau, Channel 4 is currently populated by three full-power TV stations, 110 low-power television (LPTV) and TV translator stations, and six Class-A TV stations.

We need as many examples of how they have mistreated or denied your LPTV station!


During the last two afternoon happy hours I have had the pleasure of meeting with two LPTV licensee groups visiting DC and inviting me to discuss the auction and how it will impact their stations. One was a top-10 market LD, and the other a market 50+ station.


The top-10 market station is airing 100% original multi-cultural programming on one channel, engineered its' signal to serve very specific neighborhoods, has limited zero-cost leased access on cable, and publishes a local newspaper. Had their station been included in the auction it would have had an opening bid of over $70 million.  Instead now they have to figure out how to pay for moving channels in a tight market and hopefully they can stay on the tower they are on. They have a pending cable deal which would expand their coverage dramatically.  They are doing everything and more that a Class-A station would.  


The top-50 market station

is airing 17 channels of diverse content on three related stations, and barkers a retail store which actually owns one of the stations. They serve numerous niche audiences, mostly with national networks, but also do a lot of local news and local programming.  Had their station been auction eligible they would be looking at a $17 million opening bid.



Both of these highly successful local station groups are subject to displacement in the auction, and will have to pay for their own channel moves, possibly lose their audiences, and are confused about the process.  Both operate as if they are Class-A stations, but neither has been given the chance to file for that status, even though both the FCC and the GAO have recommended that to Congress.  


In the little time we had to talk over a few drinks I tried to explain what I could about the auction and displacement processes, and the upcoming rule making.  Both licensee groups are comprised of intelligent, multicultural small business owners.  What Congress failed to do in the auction legislation, and the FCC failed to take into account when it declined to include LPTV in the auction, was how what they are doing will affect these license holders.  


The big question I have for Congress and the FCC is this...why are the stations which have the most public interest and local obligations, the full-powers and Class-A's, why are they the ones in the auction?
 Should Congress and the FCC have to adhere to the Communications Act and protect the public interest and not auction off stations with the highest required public interest obligations?  And if you do that, why are you not paying for the relocations of the those (LPTV) stations that do provide the most public interest programming, and have the highest woman and multicultural ownership rates?  To this writer, this is the argument the Court of Appeals needs to hear.  This auction authorization and design by Congress just does not make sense, and violates the very Communications Act it is suppose to adhere to.  



After I wrote the above post I got an email from a Class-A station which as of yet we have not communicated with.  They were glad to find us and we were blown away by their station.  If there were a shining example of a Class-A station, with all kinds of local origination, local news, local weather, heck they look better than probably many network affiliates in small cities.  But here is the rub.  In their market they are looking at a $20 million+ auction opening bid.  So what should they do?  Stop being the resource to the community that they are, take all that they have built and go for a retirement payday in the auction, or keep plugging away and serve the community?  


Now the members of Congress who voted for the auction are not stupid, and nor are their Committee staff.  So why did they make this stupid auction legislation? Could they have been duped by the "they are secondary for everything" argument? (yes).  Or was it all about money (yes).


Could they have had insiders from the wireless industry infiltrate their ranks? (yes) Did they really think LPTV was disorganized, did not have a strong or any lobby at all? (yes)  And did they care about what really happened to the diverse and multicultural owners and audiences they serve? (no).  


And I have another beef to rant on about.  This one is the FCC.  It said twice, first in the 2012 auction NPRM, and again the 2014 Report and Order, that it had the authority to include LPTV in the auction but chose not to because it would not help the auction be successful.  But the FCC will not disclose any of the "work product" that it used to make this $40 billion+ decision.  


I want to see the economic analysis, the spreadsheets, the models, and just how they came to their decision.  I believe they did not do these, and that they totally made their decision on a legal basis, and since LPTV is secondary for interference they are secondary for everything.  They make their convoluted argument that since LPTV does not have primary rights they can not sell the spectrum, and that also means LPTV are second class businesses and must pay for their own relocations.  They will say they are only doing what Congress ordered them to, but on the other hand they say twice that they have the authority to include LPTV in the auction.  


I believe the Court of Appeals will not look kindly on what Congress legislated and how the FCC is implementing.  The FCC will need to show how the Auction Act and their implementation of it upholds the basic tenants of the Communications Act.  And I believe they will fail at this. But we need your help to make take this case to the courts.  And we have some time.  The LPTV NPRM will be voted on next Friday the 17th, and a 30-day process will begin soon after that for Comments, and then a 15-day process for Reply Comments.  Sometime in Q1-2105 it will be voted on and a Report and Order will come out. This will also be after the current Petitions for Reconsideration have been accepted or rejected. This will be when LPTV makes its' stand in this process.  So we have some time, but not much.  


We need to collectively pool our financial resources to fund this legal and advocacy process.  Those of you which are licensees need to start to plan to contribute towards this process.  You can't expect a few licensees to foot the bill for everyone, as the interests of the whole will not be represented.  You say you do not want to invest a few hundreds dollars each to get this work done?  Then plan on spending 10's of thousands to pay for your displacement channel changes. This auction and displacements are happening, wake up.


There are over 1800 LPTV and TV translator licensees which operate 6500 stations and are prepared to build out 3500 construction permits.  Collectively we control more low-band spectrum than any other group.  Some have joined the National Translator Association, but they are only fighting for rural translator rights.  Some have joined the Advanced Television Broadcasting Alliance, but they are counting on their major backer, Sinclair Broadcasting, and its' deep pockets and what it will do in the Court of Appeals to cancel the auction.  And our Coalition has been playing the small ball game, trying to mitigate the effects of the auction and displacement process.  We publicly called for a GAO study on the impacts of the auction on LPTV and we got that from Congress.  All three groups called for a push back of construction permit deadlines and next Friday we will see how far back and under what conditions we will get that.  But we need much, much more.  And it is all up to you, the licensees.  

Support the group you want or have joined.  The Coalition needs your support now, the research, the legal work, and the direct boots on the ground here in DC is essential.

Mike Gravino, Director

LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition