GOP Reps: LPTV's Are Not Secondary to Unlicensed

Republican Reps Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Joe Barton (R-Tex.) have advised FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler that the FCC should not prioritize unlicensed devices over low-power TV's or translators in the repack of TV stations following the broadcast incentive auction.

That came in a letter to Wheeler dated Aug. 4. The legislators said that while LPTVs and translators don't have rights to participate in the incentive auction, "they are still licensed services, and are secondary only to full power stations in the TV band, not unlicensed."

The FCC is currently considering a proposal to allocate the last vacant channel in a market to unlicensed use as part of its incentive auction framewor, but it has suspended the comment deadline on that proposal.

That could leave some low powers and translators out of luck in the repack.

At a recent FCC oversight hearing, Walden and Barton both went to bat for low powers and questioned the FCC's proposal and the priority it gave unlicensed over licensed low-powers and translators. They put that in writing in the letter to Wheeler.

"The commission's proposals for unlicensed operation in the broadcast band to supersede use by licensed operations are inconsistent with both the statute and repeated calls from lawmakers to preserve LPTV and translators where possible."

They said that the flexibility the Congress gave the FCC in repacking and to maximize the spectrum recovered does not trump the fact that licensed services take precedence over unlicensed.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.