FCC TV channel auction threatens free TV

Thursday, May 29, 2014 10:05 PM

As a result of the Spectrum Act of 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) developed an auction to sell to smartphone operators the TV channels now used by many TV stations. While large-market, full-power TV stations receive some of the proceeds from the auction of their channels, the small low-power TV and TV translator stations which broadcast over the air to thousands of America's small communities may have their channels taken from them in a channel "repacking" process.

They will receive no payment whatever and many such stations will go off the air as a result. Because many small TV stations are nonprofit and all operate on shoestring budgets to bring educational programs, emergency broadcasts, news and entertainment to their communities, they will go silent if they cannot afford the high cost of finding a new channel or a new location, forcing them to relinquish channels their viewers have watched for many years.

Worse,this may cause loss of entire groups of rural stations. If the channel is in a "daisy-chain" translator system, entire networks of up to 20 or more towns can lose access to free antenna TV. Service from a large-city TV station 75 or more miles away may also disappear, as most are carried by one or more translators near the smaller cities. Thus, no over-the-air TV signal in rural areas can be considered safe.

Jim McDonald, president of the National Translator Association, stated "Congressional offices, especially in rural districts, want to hear from viewers who are in danger of losing their TV signals. Viewers who depend on TV in these areas should voice their support of rural over the air television."

In Colorado, the most vulnerable areas are north and east of Fort Morgan, west of the Continental Divide and in the Grand Junction and Four Corners areas. Contacting Colorado's U. S. Representatives, Scott Tipton and Cory Gardner, at either their local or Washington offices with a request that the FCC respect rural TV viewers in the TV channel auction process assures that rural citizens' voices will be heard while it is being designed in Washington.

For further information, visit or call (970) 593-8443.

National Translator Association