APTS, CPB and PBS Statement Regarding Broadcast Spectrum Incentive Auction Petition for Reconsideration Denial by FCC


For Immediate Release

Stacey Karp, APTS, 202-654-4222
Kelly Broadway, CPB, 202-879-9641
Jan McNamara, PBS, 703-739-5028

WASHINGTON – June 22, 2015 – The Association of Public Television Stations (APTS), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) are disappointed in the Federal Communications Commission’s denial of their Petition for Reconsideration of rules adopted last spring. The Commission’s actions create the very real possibility of a number of communities across America losing public television service following next year’s broadcast spectrum incentive auction.

In our joint filing, the Commission was asked to reconsider and revise its incentive auction rules so that if the license holder of the only or last remaining noncommercial educational station operating on a reserved channel in a market relinquishes its spectrum, then at least one reserved channel would be preserved following the auction to enable a new entrant to offer noncommercial educational television service in the community. This balanced approach would continue the Commission’s long-established reserved spectrum policy, while also enabling the success of the incentive auction.

For more than 60 years, the Commission has consistently reserved space in the television band for noncommercial educational use in every community across the country. Throughout that time, the Commission has repeatedly denied requests to delete reserved channels, citing as a principal reason for doing so the need to preserve the future availability of these educational channels for the critical public service they provide. But the Commission’s decision reverses this well-settled policy, threatening the ability of viewers to receive the invaluable services provided by local public television stations.

Through the petition denial, the Commission has decided for the first time ever to make the continued existence of noncommercial educational reserved spectrum subject entirely to market forces. By denying this petition, the Commission is discarding six decades of regulatory precedent and the clear mandate of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 to provide universal service. In taking this action without a rulemaking procedure in which interested parties might participate, the Commission is neglecting its own rules and ignoring the Administrative Procedure Act governing such rulemakings. The Commission is also putting at risk public television service to the millions of citizens who rely on over-the-air broadcasting, which in many markets is over 20 percent of the population. This action also harms the vast majority of the country whose cable and satellite service depends on broadcast technology to offer local stations.  

APTS, CPB, PBS and local public television stations across the country have been working diligently with the FCC to ensure a successful spectrum auction process. We have helped run a successful channel sharing pilot, written and disseminated a model channel sharing agreement to stations, and held numerous webinars, conference calls and meetings to assist stations regarding the spectrum auction and their various participation options.

Through this decision, the Commission has disregarded the needs of the millions of Americans who rely on public television for essential services in education, public safety and civic leadership.

Patrick Butler
President and CEO
Association of Public Television Stations

Patricia Harrison
President and CEO
Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Paula Kerger
President and CEO
Public Broadcasting Service

About APTS
The Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) is a nonprofit membership organization established in 1979. APTS represents the overwhelming majority of the 171 public television licensees nationwide. The mission of APTS is to conduct - in concert with member stations - strategic planning, research, advocacy and communications activities to foster strong and financially sound noncommercial television. APTS also works to ensure member stations' commitment and capacity to perform essential public service missions in education, public safety and civic leadership for the American people. For more information, visit www.apts.org.

About CPB
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government's investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,400 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services.

About PBS
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), with its over 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 109 million people through television and over 28 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and its website, pbskids.org, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the Internet, or by following PBS on TwitterFacebook or through our apps for mobile devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.