LPTV operators want in on the National Broadband Plan


Owners and operators of low power television stations already feel they’ve been left out in the cold by the FCC on a number of counts, and they don’t want it to happen again as the FCC hungrily eyes television spectrum for reallocation to wireless broadband. LPTV wants to be dealt a hand in this game.

For starters, in comments filed with the FCC under the auspices of Minority Media and Telecommunications Executive Director David Honig and others, 15 “LPTV entrepreneurs” are asking for the flexibility to provide local broadband service themselves, or to be allowed to participate in the voluntary spectrum auctions being offered to full power television licensees.

The list of past grievances include not being given MVPD must-carry status, vastly complicating the task of making a financial go of an LPTV business, and being initially being left out of set-top converter box mandates.

The parties said, “After spectrum is reallocated, current LPTV broadcasters should have the flexibility to use the spectrum for wireless broadband as well as traditional broadcast services. Providing such flexibility will enhance local and regional broadband service by promoting competition and allowing LPTV licensees to continue serving the communities in which they are located.”

They added, “There is the additional possibility that some LPTV broadcasters may want to participate in incentive auctions as contemplated in the NBP. These broadcasters may voluntarily relinquish their spectrum in return for a portion of these auction proceeds….The Technical Paper recommends that the FCC allow LPTV licensees to participate in the voluntary incentive auctions. We agree that LPTV licensees should be included in the incentive auctions as proposed in the NBP.”

The group added that provisions need to be made for dealing with the many LPTVs that have not yet begun the transition to digital, which they say costs between $42K-$71K if staying on channel, and over $200K if forced to move to another channel. They said that virtually all who could afford to make the move have already done so, and the others are threatened with going out of business.

They concluded, “In order to access financing and encourage investment, the Commission needs to provide LPTV operators certainty that spectrum will be available after reallocation. No reasonable broadcaster will invest capital with the continued uncertainty in the viability of its licenses. Further, not every station will be able to “flash cut” to digital immediately. Some will need to suspend broadcasting, or go dark, to complete the transition. As such, a mandatory conversion date of three years after the new allotment table becomes final, coupled with a special temporary authority to go dark for more than one year, if necessary, is a more realistic timetable to end LPTV analog service.

Included on the list of entrepreneurs were:

* Ameritrade Enterprises LLC, Davie, FL

* Bella Spectra Corp., Davie, FL

* Broadcast Partners LLC, Knoxville, TN

* Broadland Properties, Inc., Santa Clara, CA

* Chicago 22, LLC, Chicago, IL

* Coast Investors, LLC, Doral, FL

* Developers & Managers Group, LLC, Baton Rouge, LA

* DTV America Corporation, Sebring, FL

* Gaines Media, Morristown, TN

* Madison Avenue Ventures, Weston, FL

* Media Vista Group, LLC, Naples, FL

* Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, Washington, DC

* New Moon Communications, LLC, Tulsa, OK

* Open Buckle Ranch, LLC, Rapid City, SD

* Rejoice TV, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA