COALITION OF BROADCASTERS VOICES CONCERN OVER SPECTRUM BILL

A coalition of full and low-power broadcasters (LPTV) does not believe the Spectrum Auction bill (SB-911) passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee of the U.S. Senate adequately protects the vast majority of television broadcasters in the country. The Coalition for Free TV and Broadband says the Committee’s failure to include any Low-power broadcasters in the language of the bill will be the first step in the death of the LPTV industry which operates more than seven-thousand television stations and translators across the United States.

The Coalition, which represents hundreds of Community Broadcast Stations, licensees and permitees, applauds the attempt in the markup hearing on SB911, of Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo) to include low-power stations in any government auction of the television spectrum. Senator McCaskill had an amendment in the bill that protected LPTV and insured that LPTV would get compensated if their spectrum were taken away.  She read a statement that was a full-throated defense of LPTV.  Unfortunately, she withdrew the amendment by request from Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.VA)  Senator Rockefeller also stated he couldn’t support the amendment as is and that LPTV is a “secondary service.”

That comment drew immediate reaction from LPTV owners including Dr. Paul J. Broyles, President of the International Broadcasting Network, based in Houston and a Coalition member. Dr. Broyles said Senator Rockefeller’s use of “secondary” was disingenuous at best. “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, the owner and operator of several stations, goes on to say. “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.”

Among the beliefs of the Coalition are the following:

  • 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.

Several Coalition members will be in the nation’s Capitol next week to voice their concerns directly to lawmakers and their staffs.

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