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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 13, 2013
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Dennis Wharton
202-429-5350
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Bipartisan Group of Senators Urge Protection for Rural Communities in Incentive Auction

23 Senators send letter to FCC -- 23 Senators send letter to FCC asking for minimal impact to translators, low-power TV stations in broadcast spectrum auction

WASHINGTON, DC -- A bipartisan coalition of 23 Senators led by Sens. John Tester (D-MT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging the FCC to consider the importance of translators and low-power television stations to rural communities as the rules to the broadcast spectrum incentive auction are finalized.

"Countless farmers and ranchers, small businesses and families living in remote areas rely on receiving over-the-air television through translators and low power televisions stations," said the Senators in the letter. "With this in mind, we ask the FCC to minimize the impacts of repacking spectrum in rural areas following the upcoming incentive spectrum auction."

"We thank Sens. Tester and Hatch for their leadership and appreciate the support from this bipartisan group of Senators for preserving free, over-the-air television in rural America," said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. "Translators boost the signals of local TV stations to remote areas that otherwise would be unserved by broadcasters, and in some cases are unserved by any other wired or wireless services. Without translators and low power television stations, many Americans would be unable to receive the latest news and emergency information, which is critical to their well-being. We look forward to working with the FCC and Congress to preserve translator service during the spectrum auction process."

"Translators and low power TV stations are an important resource for rural communities, providing lifeline news, weather and emergency information to some of our nationís most remote areas,Ē said U.S. Cattlemenís Association Executive Vice President Jess Peterson. "We applaud these Senators for voicing their support for the millions of Americans who receive over-the-air broadcast television service in rural regions. We urge the FCC to ensure these citizens are not cut off from a valuable resource and are protected in the incentive auction."

The letter follows similar letters regarding the incentive auction rulemaking sent by congressional delegations from Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Washington, the co-chairs of the Congressional Tri-Caucus, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), a bipartisan group of 19 Senators, and eight Members of Congress whose states would be affected by international coordination in the auction.

Below is a copy of the letter sent by the 23 Senators to the FCC.

* * *

November 13, 2013

Tom Wheeler
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554

Dear Chairman Wheeler:

As the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) works to finalize the rules for the inaugural voluntary incentive spectrum auction, we encourage the FCC to consider the critical role of translators and low power television stations in delivering over-the-air television to our nationís rural communities. Countless farmers and ranchers, small businesses and families living in remote areas rely on receiving over-the-air television through translators and low power televisions stations. With this in mind, we ask the FCC to minimize the impacts of repacking spectrum in rural areas following the upcoming incentive spectrum auction.

In the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act (P.L. 112-96), Congress authorized the FCC to conduct the first-ever voluntary spectrum incentive auction. However, the Act did not contain specific provisions regarding the importance of maintaining over-the-air television networks in rural, mountainous or otherwise hard-to-reach areas that depend on translators or low power television stations. Across our vast prairies and mountain ranges, our constituents rely on over-the-air television to access vital news programming, weather updates, emergency announcements and educational and entertainment content.

Television translators and low-power television stations are deployed across the nation to extend the reach of full-power stations or to provide service where it wouldnít exist otherwise. In fact, there are over 4,000 translators across the country and over 2,000 low power television stations. Furthermore, translators often operate as a network, relaying programming to the hardest to reach corners of our country. We implore the Commission to take a careful approach to repacking so as not upset these carefully constructed daisy chains.

While we recognize that the repacking process will inevitably lead to changes for translators and low power television stations, we urge the FCC to ensure that access to quality over-the-air television is preserved. Translators and low power television stations are often owned and operated by small local entities that cannot afford retooling with their limited resources. Thatís why it is crucial for the FCC to take into account the unique challenges of updating translators and low power television stations after repacking spectrum.

We believe these important broadcasting issues can be addressed without delaying the spectrum auction as the auction is essential to developing public safety networks and mobile broadband services. We respectfully request a response addressing the efforts of the FCC to ensure the millions of rural viewers in our states are protected. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Jon Tester
United States Senator

Amy Klobuchar
United States Senator

Mark Begich
United States Senator

Max Baucus
United States Senator

Tim Johnson
United States Senator

Mark Udall
United States Senator

Kay R. Hagan
United States Senator

Jeff Merkley
United States Senator

Michael Bennet
United States Senator

Heidi Heitkamp
United States Senator

Dean Heller
United States Senator

John McCain
United States Senator

Orrin Hatch
United States Senator

Deb Fischer
United States Senator

Michael Enzi
United States Senator

Mike Crapo
United States Senator

Lisa Murkowski
United States Senator

Richard Burr
United States Senator

John Barrasso, M.D.
United States Senator

Mike Johanns
United States Senator

James Risch
United States Senator

John Hoeven
United States Senator

Jeff Flake
United States Senator

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About NAB
The National Association of Broadcasters is the premier advocacy association for America's broadcasters. NAB advances radio and television interests in legislative, regulatory and public affairs. Through advocacy, education and innovation, NAB enables broadcasters to best serve their communities, strengthen their businesses and seize new opportunities in the digital age. Learn more at www.nab.org.