Spectrum auction hearing leaving out LPTV


LPTVThe House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, chaired by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), has scheduled the “Oversight of Incentive Auction Implementation” for 7/23. Invited to testify are representatives from the FCC, the NAB, a representative of a small groups of TV stations wanting to sell in the auction, two wireless companies, and major foundation backed internet lobbying non-profit.

Absent from list of those to testify are any representatives of the Low Power Television and TV Translator industry, which collectively are 74% of all TV licenses, and claim to be threatened to be eliminated in most every community in the country in the auction.

Mike Gravino, Director of the LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition, and representing over 540 of the LPTV and TV Translator licenses that could be eliminated in the auction, questioned the usefulness to the Hearing to invite the white space advocates which do not have any businesses, jobs, and millions of diverse viewers at stake in the auction: “All that Public Knowledge wants to do is to take away what is now a free to the public one-to-many TV spectrum and give it away to their Silicon Valley backers so that they can sell more high-priced gadgets and wireless services which break down in times of emergency just when families and communities need them most. This is the worse type of industrial policy, taking away a proven method of content delivery which is free for the public, and giving it away so another industry so they can make money with it. There is no public good in eliminating one of the most vital content-delivery methods in the country, free broadcast television. Besides, there is no spectrum crunch, as Public Knowledge has advocated, there are only overcharges and dropped calls because of the inefficiencies of the wireless services.”

RBR-TVBR observation: Gravino has a point. LPTV stations and translators do represent a huge chunk of the licenses and cater to those without cable or satellite. While many of them are still broadcasting in analog, most will switch to digital on or before the 9/15/15 deadline. Whether or not they will keep their place in the channel spectrum remains to be seen, but they deserve a voice on the matter.