Mar 6, 2012

Fate of translators still an unknown in spectrum legislation

There were "bodies left out on the legislative battlefield," including TV translator stations, in the recent spectrum legislation, writes telecom attorney Scott R. Flick of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. Those stations are not permitted to participate in the spectrum auction, are not protected from being displaced in spectrum repacking, and are not entitled to reimbursement of repacking expenses. "It is that last point that may be the most important in rural areas," Flick notes.

He uses an example of Montana, with its nearly 350 TV translators. "Moving even a third of them will be an expensive proposition for licensees whose primary purpose is not profit, but the continued availability of rural broadcast service," he writes. "Further complicating the picture is the fact that in border states like Montana, protecting spectrum for low power TV and TV translators will inevitably be a very low priority when negotiating a new spectrum realignment treaty with Canada or Mexico to permit reallotment of the band."

Lonna Thompson, c.o.o. of APTS, told Current that pubcasting advocacy organization "will be working to ensure translators’ interests in the upcoming FCC spectrum rulemakings. The law is rather general, and much will be decided at the FCC level."

More on the spectrum legislation here (Current, Feb. 28).

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