Almost five dozen legislators (a total of 57) representing
"rural and mountainous" areas of the country have written acting FCC chair
Mignon Clyburn saying the FCC needs to tell them how the upcoming incentive
auctions are going to impact those who rely on low-power TV stations and
And they want an answer "before the FCC proceeds with
any plans that could adversely affect our constituents in rural America."
The signatories, which included the chair and ranking member
of the House Agriculture Committee, were almost evenly divided between
Republicans and Democrats, but united in their concern for rural constituents,
who rely on translators -- which extend TV station signals to hard-to-reach
areas, and low-power stations that provide niche service to rural areas.
"[W]e encourage the FCC to do all it can to ensure
viewers do not lose access to important broadcast programming through rural
translators and low power television stations," the legislators said. They
want an answer by July 31.
The National Association of Broadcasters, which
provided a copy of the letter, agreed. "Rural broadcasters often provide
the only lifeline to local news, weather and emergency information for millions
of Americans in isolated communities," said NAB president Gordon Smith.
"NAB applauds lawmakers for their support and recognition of the enduring
value of broadcast television to rural areas."