LPTV INDUSTRY NEWS - WED - OCT. 7, 2015
1319 Days Since The Incentive Auction legislation was passed
174 Days Until The FCC Says The Auction Starts
About 1 year until the LPTV and TV translator displacement window opens
STOP THE PRESSES
TWO MAJOR STATION GROUP OWNERS FILE AGAINST THE RECENTLY DENIED INCENTIVE AUCTION PETITIONS OF RECONSIDERATION
Yesterday was the final day to petition the US Court of Appeals here in DC related to the FCC's denial of Incentive Auction Petition for Reconsideration. These Petitions were denied this past summer (all three of the Coalition's were denied also), and now two major station group owners, Mako Communications, Inc.; and, the Word of God Fellowship, Inc. (the Daystar network), have filed separate Petitions for Review, for the issues they were denied by the FCC.
The Daystar petition is joined in by FAB, an LPTV investment group called, Free Access & Broadcast Telemedia, LLC. An additional Petition, from Beach TV, was also filed. Let's take a quick overview of these, and do check out the filing themselves:
Mako Communications, LLC
is a family owned and operated company that has been acquiring, building, and maintaining Class A and low power television stations all across the United States since 2000. Their business model is to lease channels to networks using f
lexible LMA agreements. They provide coverage w
ith 43 stations broadcasting in 26 markets, and stations in 13 of the top 20 markets. Mako has become one of the springboards for many new multicultural TV channels. Here is a detailing from just 3 of the 50 stations: (source www.rabbitears.info)
Mako also owns 5 Incentive Auction Class-A stations, and could receive many 100's of millions in opening bids, but like most Class-A's, that is not a certainty, and neither is the final bid prices, which will be far far, did I say, far lower.
So Mako has indicated that it is not attempting to upset the Incentive Auction process, and to that end it has filed, along with the FCC, to the court, a
Joint Motion to Expedite
We have known about this filing since mid-summer, but decided not to report on it until the dust was settled with other potential filers. One of the key reasons that the Coalition itself has not filed, is that, we believe that the Mako filing sets the stage to answer the most basic and most pressing legal question about LPTV and TV translators, "what does our secondary status mean in the age of the Incentive Auction?" We know from the Rosenworcel Doctrine, ever since 2012, that the FCC has been pushing very fast to a "LPTV and TV translators are secondary to everyone else, including unlicensed." So while the FCC's proposed Vacant Channel order rushes through rulemaking, the US Court of Appeals will be attempting to answer that very question. This is one of the top-dogs in our industry, a fully funded legal case, with highly competent legal representation, and armed with the facts that the FCC has been ignoring.
(WORD OF GOD FELLOWSHIP, INC.)
& FAB (FREE ACCESS & BROADCAST TELEMEDIA, LLC)
The Word of God Fellowship, Inc., the legal entity which holds their FCC licenses, and operates the Daystar Network, is a major television broadcast licensee in addition to being one of the largest religious broadcasters. A quick review of the FCC CDBS shows about 100 full power, Class-A, and LPTV stations licensed by them, which reach about 62%, or about 104 million coverage pops. They too have major Class-A holdings which are auction eligible, but unlike Mako, Daystar also has full power auction eligible entities. These auction eligible stations could receive opening bids of as much as $4.2 Billion, and as like everyone else, could see about $400 million of that in the auction.
Daystar carries its' own network as the sole channel on the majority of its' 100 stations, meaning only that one single standard definition feed is used. But is select large markets, it also, like Mako, leases channel capacity to others.
FAB does not have any public-facing information or social site presence. From a search of the FCC's CDBS, they did not show up as a licensee, or as part of any ownership group with LPTV licenses or permits. From what we have heard, FAB has invested into "future options" for LPTV valuations, has obtained these options from a small group of owners, and is trying to make their investment have an increased valuation. However, FAB does has an extensive record of submitting Comments, Reply Comments, and ex parte meetings with the FCC about LPTV issues.
The Word of God Fellowship and FAB joint filing focuses on totally different issues than the others:
Many, if not most of the arguments and
which FAB and Daystar are asking the Court to address, were issues originally researched, data developed about, and put forth by the Coalition into the Incentive Auction proceedings. FAB has been riding on that work, and in many cases has now taken it into what would be solid legal arguments ready to present to the Court. However, the Coalition is concerned about the "ripeness" of the arguments, since we are still in the LPTV rulemaking process, and as such, the type and extent of any potential damages is not yet known.
From what we know of the process, Daystar is a late entry into the legal process, did not originally file, nor have rejected, any Petitions for Reconsideration, whereas, FAB does. Daystar was approached early on in the process to get more involved, and we hope that this late entry will not prevent them from being part of the case. They have a very valuable, and representational view of the potential harm and damages to LPTV and TV translators. This chart shows how much religious broadcasting is part of LPTV:
The Beach TV filing is very specific about its' own Petition for Reconsideration about its failure to qualify to be auction eligible, and as such, is of limited, if no significance for the rest of us in LPTV land. Here is a link to the filing.
Since Mako filed back in August, its' schedule is now known, that is, until the Court decides to change it. It is unknown if FAB/Daystar will agree to an expedited schedule with the Court.
The Coalition is closely watching what is going on with these cases, and will intervene with the Court at the appropriate time if needed to make sure the Court has all of the "facts" about LPTV and TV translators.
IN OTHER INDUSTRY NEWS...
"I am not going to
sugarcoat the truth..."
REMARKS OF FCC COMMISSIONER AJIT PAI TO THE NATIONAL RELIGIOUS BROADCASTERS' PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL WASHINGTON, DC OCTOBER 7, 2015
"Since the beginning of the incentive auction proceeding, the NRB has emphasized the importance of keeping low-power television stations on the air following the auction. I share your concern. Low power stations provide Americans with a wide variety of valuable programming, including religious content. Now, unlike many in Washington, DC, I'm not going to sugarcoat the truth. Given the way that Congress drafted the incentive auction legislation, some low-power stations will not be able to stay on the air after the auction. There just won't be enough spectrum available to find a home for all of them. And the law simply doesn't allow the FCC to do much about it."
As usual, a big shout out and thanks to Commissioner Pai for speaking the truth as it he sees it, and once again he is reaching out to the LPTV community. His much beloved Kansas has about 93 LPTV and TV translators, so what happens to the industry will touch the lives of many he knows there.
But we do have to ask a few questions here. Has the Commissioner seen a study by the FCC in order to make the claim that LPTV and TV translators will not have enough spectrum to repack into? And how is it that the FCC does not have any laws to protect us as licensed services? Did the Incentive Auction act wipe out all rights we have? No, not at all. But Pai is frustrated at a much of what the Dem controlled FCC is doing, and not doing. But if or his excellent staff know of a spreadsheet, a study, a memo, anything at all which shows that the FCC did study the impacts on LPTV and TV translators, then I will be the first say thanks.
LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition