Low Power Protection Act To Be Signed Into Law

Posted on December 30th, 2022 by

Nearly a year after being introduced, the Low Power Protection Act has been approved in the Senate and House, and presented to the President for signature.  The text of the legislation can be reviewed here.

The Act is designed to protect low power television stations in smaller and more rural markets from being displaced.  The proposed protection mechanism is to allow those stations to convert to Class-A television stations.  Class-A television stations enjoy interference protection in exchange for broadcasting a minimum of 18 hours per day and an average of at least three hours per week of locally produced programming each quarter. The FCC is required by the Act to issue a rule that entitles low power television stations in Designated Market Areas with no more than 95,000 television households to Class A protection.

The last time low power television stations could qualify for Class A status was over two decades ago, in 1999.  To do so, stations had to certify that they met certain operating and local programming criteria as of a specific date.  Based upon the Act, low power television stations in markets below 95,000 television households would only qualify for Class A status if they were meeting locally produced programming requirements 90 days prior to enactment of the legislation (i.e., when it is signed into law).  The current FCC rule is similar – conditioning Class A eligibility by a date that was 90 days prior to adoption of the 1999 legislation.