Tester, Hatch to FCC: Protect television reception across rural America

Senators tell agency to move carefully as it prepares for upcoming auction

(U.S. SENATE) – As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prepares for the sell-off of television broadcast airwaves nationwide, Senators Jon Tester and Orrin Hatch are making sure rural, over-the-air TV signals remain strong.

The FCC’s upcoming voluntary broadcast “spectrum” auction will re-package the frequencies used by cell phones companies and television broadcasters to expand mobile broadband services and develop better public safety networks. But if the re-packing of the nation’s airwaves is not done carefully, rural Americans who rely on relay stations – known as translators – and low-power stations to send broadcast signals to their homes could face reception problems.

Tester (D-Mont.) and Hatch (R-Utah), both supporters of the auction, want FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to ensure that the sale of television airwaves will not worsen broadcast quality for millions of rural viewers who depend upon translators and smaller stations for local news and public safety information.

“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,” Tester and Hatch told Wheeler. “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.”

Tester and Hatch are joined by Max Baucus (D-Mont.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), and Mark Udall (D-Colo.).

Tester recently called on the FCC to prevent television reception interference in border states where viewers can receive broadcast signals from Canada and Mexico.

Tester and Hatch’s letter to FCC Chariman Wheeler.pdf by les_braswell5524