The LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition “wholeheartly” supports the FCC’s Report & Order detailing the rules and processes for the distribution of the $150 million in funding Congress authorized for auction and repack displaced LPTV and TV translators.
These rules, the Coalition notes, culminate the more than six-year process the FCC has taken to plan, conduct, clear and now fund for rebuilding the nations’ LPTV and TV translator system.
“Our Coalition appreciates the careful attention to detail the FCC staff and Commissions have taken to make sure as many as possible LPTV and TV translator qualifying entities can have quick access to these funds,” it said.
Some licensees were already displaced in “Phase Zero”, the first 16 months of the repack, and will be waiting over two years after moving channels for displacement funding.
More than 2000 stations, licenses, and permits were displaced by both the auction and repack, and over 1500 of these entities have qualified for new construction permits, the first step of displacement funding. They will however, need to pass a second test passed by Congress, that of being on air 7 of the 12 months before the auction started.
This requirement is not part of the current LPTV and TV translator operating rules, and as such is an arbitary new condition needed to obtain funding. “Our Coalition estimates that between 20-40% of all stations receiving a new construction permit may not qualify for this 2nd condition for funding,” it said.
In addition, the 500 or so applications which were rejected for new construction permits, will still be able to apply for a new channel when the current filing freeze is lifted later in 2019. And, many may still be able to qualify for funding once they have those new permits.
“It is a huge vote of confidence and worthiness that Congress authorized $150 million for LPTV and TV translator relocation funding,” Coalition Director Mike Gravino said. “While our part of the industry is considered a secondary service, in many smaller communities, LPTV and translators are the ONLY source of free broadcast television services. Combined with the LPTV EAS (emergency alert services) requirement, LPTV, with this Congressional funding, will continue to keep this essential lifeline service available through the country. We thank the FCC Commissioners, Media Bureau, and Video Division for their diligent work to both fairly and timely implement the Congressional funding directive.”
Further, Gravino said, “The facts are that more LPTV and TV translators were NOT displaced by the auction and repack than those that were. The facts are that 100s of displaced stations will have had to wait over 2 years for funding to reimburse them. The facts are that the many 1000s of stations not displaced by the auction or repack have had their valuations be severely depressed for years now by all of the uncertainty of the incentive auction process. And the fact remains, that despite a movement to end the LPTV service, our industry has prevailed over those forces, and is now poised with new next gen TV standard to blaze the trail into the future, once again.”