HEARD AROUND THE WATER COOLER
ARE THERE MAJOR CHANGES COMING BEFORE THE INCENTIVE AUCTION TO THE FCC LEADERSHIP?
OR IS THIS JUST THE SAME
OLD DC RUMOR MILL AT WORK?
Rumors are valuable if only to test out what might be the reaction to various scenario's and actions DC-insiders could take. The first part of the latest rumor flying around, and which we have now heard from three separate sources, is that Da' Chairman himself, is planning his exit in January 2016, months before the auction. The reason is unclear, but the chatter is keeping the net busy the last few days.
The second part of the rumor is that the unlicensed queen herself, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, will then take over the Commission, and guide it into the age of the incentive auction and never-ending unlicensed spectrum access. But these are just rumors, even though they come from within the FCC itself.
We are sure Commissioner Rosenworcel will do a great job of protecting Silicon Valley's interests, but we of course are worried about what she will consider is, "in the public interest". She has been the champion of anything unlicensed, having booked more air travel to unlicensed industry events than any previous Commissioner. But heck, this is DC, and da' girl is making her move.
Commissioner Rosenworcel, is notorious to LPTV and translator licensees, as the source of "LPTV is secondary to everything" policy. This is playing itself out in the FCC's Vacant Channel order, giving two free channels to unlicensed (at a cost of $18 billion! by our estimation). She is also not liked much since she and her former boss, former Senator Rockefeller, really screwed up when they forced a 10-year auction authority for the FCC as part of the Incentive Auction process. This 10-year authority is really messing up any new auctions, since the licensed industry now has to wait until 2023 for any new auction authority.
Personally I do not give much credence to the rumors, unless something personal is involved, which then makes everything others and us are saying moot and not relevant. But if the rumors are true, then we can be looking at a tsunami of proposals against LPTV and TV translators, much more so than what has happened already.
I do wonder out loud how many of the Commissioners have ever been to an LPTV station, a transmission site, or to a translator mountain-top site? At this point, probably none. Too bad, it might help them understand better the ramifications from their proposed actions against our industry.
The management of Daystar
(Word of God Fellowship, Inc.), a major religious broadcaster we reported on this week which is party to one of the Court of Appeals filing against the Incentive Auction rulemakings against LPTV, contacted us with a statement, which we gladly provide for you all here...
STATEMENT CONCERNING THE WORD OF GOD FELLOWSHIP, INC. (WOGF)
OCTOBER 5, 2015 FILING IN THE DC CIRCUIT COURT
"Monday October 5th was the very last day to file for review at the DC Circuit on the 1st R&O and 2nd Order on Reconsideration regarding the LPTV situation at the FCC. WOGF did so to preserve our basic rights as LPTV owners. WOGF owns 88 LPTV stations across the country with a combined POP of approximately
130 million. 41 of our LPTV's are in the top 50 TV markets.
We respectfully seek review and a solution/redress to the challenges presented by the 1st R&O and the June 2nd Order on Reconsideration denials, either via this appeal or via the FCC doing the right thing in the still-open 3rd (LPTV) NPRM. We earnestly still hope the FCC will share publicly the likely/probably outcomes on LPTV impacts now that it has had a full year to robustly model various clearing scenarios in order for a healthy dialogue on impacts to take place that should in no way delay anything whatsoever."
The leadership at Daystar and the Word of God Fellowship, Inc. are in a tight spot. Their non-profit ministry business model is at risk if it has significant displacement and channel changing in major markets. While their huge size, compared to most LPTV licensees, will help it in any mutually displacement applications, they need to watch how this all unfolds going forward. They have a very experienced technical and management team in place, so they are prepared far better than most LPTV licensees.
Here is a chart from their 2014 Annual Report which helps to illustrate what is at stake for them in a displacement scenario, in which they could lose a channel to the vacant channel order: