A House panel this week continued oversight of the FCC’s ongoing efforts to implement a voluntary incentive auction of television broadcast spectrum. In advance of the hearing that featured a key FCC official as well as broadcast and wireless industry representatives, NRB reiterated its call that the FCC purposefully protect programming choices for Americans, specifically the religious and family programming that NRB TV Members provide free of charge to local communities.
“Let us be careful not to auction away wholesome programming from the airwaves,” said Dr. Frank Wright, President & CEO of NRB. “The immense value of broadcast television is nowhere more evident than among NRB’s TV Members that operate thanks to support of those in the local communities they serve.”
As it did in public comments to the FCC earlier this year, NRB declared that the interests of the viewing public should be paramount in the spectrum auction proceeding. Moreover, NRB specifically highlighted the “no-alter” clause in the Spectrum Act for low-power television (LPTV). Congress stated in the law, “Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to alter the spectrum usage rights of low-power television stations.”
“LPTV stations have an important role in meeting the truly local news, information, and service needs of their communities,” declared Dr. Wright. “I urge members of the Communications Subcommittee to inquire what steps the FCC will be taking to keep low-power stations from simply being forced off the air.”
In the hearing, low-power TV and translators were highlighted by both Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and panelist Rick Kaplan of the National Association of Broadcasters. In response to a question from Chairman Walden about minimizing harm to LPTV in any channel re-packing, FCC Senior Advisor Gary Epstein noted that while low-power licensees cannot participate in the auction, that “doesn’t mean they are not highly valued.”
As the FCC works to advance this spectrum auction, NRB continues to urge a process that fairly honors the services and investments of Christian television broadcasters in their local communities.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: July 26, 2013