LPTV Coalition Threatens FCC With Lawsuit

The LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition says the commission needs to generate more data on how the upcoming spectrum auction and band repacking will affect low-power TV stations before moving forward.

A new coalition made up of low-power television station operators is threatening the FCC with a lawsuit if it doesn’t conduct an impact study on how the pending spectrum auction would affect its members’ business.

In comments filed at the commission, the LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition, a group made up of members that hold 552 LPTV licenses across 31 states that officially formed in June, argues that the Spectrum Act has “major faults and imperils the LPTV service.”

“Without such a study being done prior to any final rulemaking and order, the coalition will be forced to initiate legal action,” Mike Gravino, director of the coalition, wrote in the comments. “We believe that Congress avoided its responsibilities under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act when it did not ask the Congressional Budget Office to study the effects of SB.911 on the LPTV service.”

Low-power operators have expressed their concern for months that the incentive auction and subsequent channel repack could severely damage, or even eliminate, their sector of the broadcast industry. LPTV stations, with exclusion of the Class A variety, can’t participate in the voluntary auction and they also won’t be included the FCC’s database when the channel repack takes place.

Under the auction’s legislation, the FCC needs to make “all reasonable efforts” to protect full-power and Class A TV stations in the repacking, but has no obligation to other LPTV stations.

In the comments, Gravino said the coalition supports holding a mock auction that would include a mock LPTV repacking. “It is totally unfair that auction- eligible stations are literally getting free engineering assistance wit the new TV Study software when they get automatically repacked to replicate their coverage,” Gravino writes.


The coalition also supports an increase in the LPTV fee structure to support more staff and resources dedicated to LPTV-related activities, according to Gravino.

Comments (8)

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Brian Bussey says:

August 29, 2013 at 3:44 pm

thanks to the digital conversion. all broadcast stations are low power stations.

    Keith ONeal says:

    August 29, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    Not really; there are plenty of stations broadcasting with 1,000,000 watts (1,000 kilowatts).

Ellen Samrock says:

August 29, 2013 at 4:08 pm

I’d sue the FCC just on general principle. One of the worst regulatory bodies of an industry, ever! But I’m glad to see the gloves are finally coming off as a response to the Commission’s high-handed tactics with the LPTV industry. Had it not been for Rosenworcel’s misunderstanding/misapplication of the term “secondary”, Low power stations would not even be in this mess. Thanks, Jessica. In a loopy Nancy Pelosi “we gotta pass it to find out what’s in it” logic, Congress passed the Spectrum Act without fully understanding how it would impact LPTV and translators. Now that they know, most legislators are horrified. This isn’t over. Go get ’em, Mike. (And for anyone who cares about this issue, support the LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition).

    Keith ONeal says:

    August 29, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    That isn’t the only bill Congress passed without understanding what the bill was about; They passed the 1992 Cable/Satellite Act (Retrans Consent) without understanding or giving a damn about the consumer!

Robert Crookham says:

August 29, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Let’s make a deal with them: LPTV’s start obeying the rules, and the FCC will look and see if there’s a way to keep them in business. The Commission’s “Daily Digest” is riddled with LPTV’s and Class A’s who don’t bother to maintain public inspection files, ignore childrens programming rules, don’t answer inquiries from the Commission, and so on. Most of them aren’t worth the spectrum they occupy.

    Ellen Samrock says:

    August 29, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    And you could make the same argument for a lot of full power stations. And don’t forget, many low power station owners got their CPs at auction. Quite often, they have invested just as much money to get their stations on-air as have their full power brethren.

Gene Johnson says:

August 29, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Don’t lump LPTV’s and Class A’s together with respect to who the FCC is going after for children’s programming and public file rules. Those only apply to Class A’s, not LPTV. Indeed, those Class A’s who have failed to respond to the FCC are losing there Class A status, relegating them back to “ordinary” LPTV (secondary) status.

    Ellen Samrock says:

    August 29, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    And herein lies the big misconception about the term “secondary.” LPTV and translators are only secondary in terms of accepting interference from and being displaced by full power stations and they cannot cause interference to full power stations. According to the FCC, interference is the only way LPTV is secondary. To exclude LPTV in the auction, to not insure that these stations will have a place after the repack or to deny access to relocation funding is way beyond the scope of the FCC’s own wording.