The Coalition for Free TV and Broadband says it is not at all happy about the language in S.911, the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act, the bill that just made it through the Senate Commerce Committee. The Coalition says it includes full and low power television operators, but its main concern at the moment is the protection of low-power community broadcast stations.
The Coalition applauded the attempt of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) to include language via amendment that would write protections for LPTV into the bill, which could lead to voluntary incentive auctions in the television band, spectrum repacking and potentially, the loss of LPTV stations.
Unfortunately for the Coalition, it also had to lament McCaskill’s withdrawal of the amendment at the request of sponsor and committee chair Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).
Rockefeller’s characterization of LPTV as a secondary service was not appreciated. Dr. Paul J. Broyles, President of the International Broadcasting Network, comments, “As I have noted a number of times in the past, the original meaning of the term “secondary” has been repeatedly distorted over the years to the detriment of our industry. Originally, it meant only that LPTV stations, being the new kids on the block, could not cause interference to NTSC full power stations or previously-licensed translators.”
Broyles continued, “As the term is now used, “secondary” means inferior, worthless and temporary — subject to being displaced by any and all new services. The original rationale — that LPTV was an unproven new kid on the block and should therefore be secondary to the older established stations — has not been applied to other new services that have come along.”
The Coalition plans to lobby Capitol Hill to make its views known. They include:
* We believe that the Federal Government should not take spectrum away from free television broadcasters and give it to a few wireless monopolies.
* We believe that if the spectrum is lost, hundreds of television stations that provide free, local, minority, and faith-based programs could go off the air.
* We believe that if the spectrum is auctioned, all Class A, LPTV stations, and translators must be included.
* We believe that television broadcasters have solutions that will allow them to provide free or low cost wireless internet to their communities.
* We believe, if allowed to fully utilize their bandwidth, television broadcasters will provide a necessary alternative to traditional wireless internet providers. This competition will be good for the consumer.