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House Communications Subcommittee Considers LPTV Bill

The House Energy & Commerce Committee Communications Subcommittee will hold a hearing July 24 on a trio of bills.

No witnesses have been announced.

The bills are the LPTV and Translator Act of 2014, a House version of the E-LABEL Act, and the Anti-Spoofing Act of 2013.

Low-power TV stations (LPTVs) in the bill will be given some "options" to continue to "serve their communities" in the station repacking following a broadbcaster incentive auction. LPTVs were not given the same protections as full-powers, in the legislation creating the auction. The FCC is instructed to preserve the coverage areas and interference protections of full-powers. Not so for low-powers.

The E-LABEL Act would lift the requirement that electronic devices have a physical label to display FCC-required information, although the FCC recently changed that requirement on its own initiative. A Senate version was introduced last week.

Mike Gravino of the LPTV Spectrum Rights Coalition saw the bill more as a chance to spur a conversation about LPTV than a lifeline for the service, given that the bottom line of the legislation remains that LPTVs get a break only if it does not adversely affect either the forward or reverse auction, and suggests that LPTVs might have to cut power to stay in business. 

Grading the bill, Gravino gave it a barely passing grade. "We score them [legislators] an 'A' for getting a bill introduced into the Subcommittee, a real Hearing, but now the anti-LPTV groups (and they are all around us), have something to shoot at with no trade to offer them for a cease fire.  And we give them a 'D' for using language which may, although not for sure, but might actually limit LPTV spectrum usage rights.  And for not actually solving any real LPTV problems, and offering up even lower power as a solution to limited channel availabilities, well that gets an 'F'.  This scores out to a 'D+' on our books..."

John Eggerton
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.