TO CONGRESSIONAL LETTER
ABOUT LPTV & TRANSLATORS
Chairman Wheeler responded via letter this week to LPTV and TV translator questions submitted by House Subcommittee members, Renee Ellmers (R-NC), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL), and Billy Long (R-MO). The FCC, as a policy, does not release these letters until 7 days have passed. Members of Congress are at liberty to disclose anytime. We got a copy of two of the letters, and from what we gather, the Chairman believes the FCC is doing everything they are obligated to do for LPTV and translators related to the auction. In the letter the Chairman goes on to say...
"Although the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 ("Spectrum Act") does not explicitly protect LPTV and TV translator stations in the repacking process, the Commission is taking an array of steps to help mitigate the impact of the auction and repacking process on LPTV and TV translator stations so that the important programming content they provide continues to reach viewers."
So far, so good, but let's go further...
"...the Commission last year announced that it will open a special filing window for operating LPTV and TV translator stations that are displaced by the repacking and reallocation of the television bands, in order to offer such stations an opportunity to select a new channel."
Yes, we like the displacement window for licensed stations, but...
"We also modified our rules to allow stations with mutually exclusive displacement applications to reach a settlement or an engineering solution, rather than require competing stations to resolve all mutual exclusivity through an auction as the Communications Act generally requires."
Ok, this could make it easier, however...
"...we afforded priority to displacement applications filed by digital replacement translators used to fill in the service areas of full power stations that could not otherwise be replicated when those stations transitioned from analog to digital facilities."
I guess you got to make the primary full powers with replacement translators happy, but...
"... the Commission adopted rules that will permit these stations to remain on their existing channels during the post-auction transition period until they are notified that a forward auction winner is within 120 days of commencing operations on the repurposed 600 MHz spectrum."
Excellent, we can stay on-channel until the spectrum is actually needed by the wireless companies, even after the 39 months repack period, and...
the Commission also opened a dedicated proceeding to consider additional means to mitigate the potential impact of the incentive auction and the repacking process on LPTV and TV translator stations to help preserve the important services they provide."
This has been what we have been doing the last year, the LPTV rulemaking, but...
"Today, I circulated proposed rules to my fellow commissioners and I expect that the Commission will act on the proposals put forward in this proceeding later this fall. Those proposals include a range of options to help enable LPTV and TV translator stations remain on the air."
First, we have proposed extending the digital transition date for LPTV and TV translator stations until 12 months following the completion of the 39-month post-incentive auction transition period."
"Second, we have proposed allowing channel sharing by and between LPTV and TV translator stations. Channel sharing arrangements could mitigate the effects of repacking displacement by allowing stations to share the remaining television channels and will facilitate the continued viability of LPTV through new programming and business arrangements that promote spectral efficiency."
A very loaded statement, but if the FCC allows you to channel share anywhere in the country, well that could be cool, couldn't it? LET US KNOW
"...we have also proposed to use our auction optimization and repacking software to assist LPTV and TV translator stations identify available channels and potentially maximize the number of such stations in the TV band post-auction."
COULD BE GOOD, but last we heard does not mean using the software to find your own new channel, but only knowing from the FCC which channels would be available. Need to read the Report and Order to find out more...
"...in light of Congress's determination not to include LPTV or TV translator stations in the auction or protect them in repacking, we have not systematically analyzed the potential displacement impact on those stations. Similarly, because LPTV and TV translator stations are not entitled to protection in the repacking process, no assumptions regarding them are necessary to conduct auction simulations or repacking analyses; LPTV and TV translator stations do not factor into such analyses."
Now this is where we differ with the Chairman, and Incentive Auction Task Force. While indeed, the auction legislation does not require the FCC to consider LPTV and translators for repacking, all of the other rules related to us does matter, and those rules require that the FCC consider the impacts on us. They license us, they govern our activities. They are responsible for creating an environment for us to succeed. We pay fees every year for just these services and privileges, and so we can fulfill our public interest obligations. The Video Division and Media Bureau need to study the impacts on us, since they are responsible for our service being successfully managed for the public good.
"Since Congress enacted the Spectrum Act, the FCC has sought to faithfully implement its mandate, while mitigating the potential impact on broadcaster and other services that currently use the broadcast band, including LPTV and TV translator stations. I am confident that the steps have described above will help ensure the continued availability of LPTV and TV translator services post-auction."
Yup, 7500+ of us will all still be around, waiting to build out, and get back to the business of managing a business plan, rather than this darn rulemaking process.