Farmers and other rural area business organizations are concerned about the FCC’s plan to appropriate one or more channels in the UHF TV band for unlicensed operations.
Broadcast TV is a big deal in rural America and on native lands for weather reports and lifeline information.
Ten groups have written FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, concerned the plan could damage broadcast translator service in these areas. Nine of the 10 groups represent an aspect of farming and the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association signed the letter as well.
The commission plans to devote one UHF band in each market for use by white space devices and wireless mics. Since translators and low-power TV stations are not protected in the subsequent re-packed TV band, the proposal leaves less space for them to find a new allocation.
“As we understand this proposal, it could potentially displace a significant number of television translators — translators that are critical to delivering local television service to rural communities. We are fearful that this proposal, coupled with the anticipated translator losses resulting from the spectrum auction, will disproportionately and unnecessarily harm rural television viewers,” they wrote.
They tell the chairman that any proposal that negatively affects television translators not only impacts their groups as community members, business owners and employees. From weather to commodities, local television is a vital source of information for many of the livelihoods in rural America, according to the groups.
They find it “uniquely puzzling” the proposal considerable translator loss in exchange for “highly speculative benefits from unlicensed devices — benefits that have not yet materialized and may never materialize.”