Broadcast television in the U.S. occupies 294 MHz of spectrum and is divided into five Very High Frequency (“VHF”) and Ultra High Frequency (“UHF”) bands.

There are currently 8,402 total television stations operating in the UHF and VHF bands, each of which has been assigned a 6 MHz block of spectrum covering a particular geographical area.

Small-market stations across the country are being acquired by purchasers who intend to profit from the Federal Communications Commission’s planned spectrum sale in 2015.

These acquisitions are a point of concern for U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, who wrote a letter to the FCC with five questions requesting information about the future of these stations.

“In light of the recent sale of WMGM-TV NBC 40 (LoBiondo is concerned) about the station's continued service in covering the news in the Atlantic City market,” according to a statement from the congressman’s office.

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The letter to the FCC says “concerns have been raised that the purchasers are not truly interested in serving the community or the survival of the station. Some have said the purchasers are accumulating small-market television stations only to speculate and profit from the spectrum available during the Broadcast Television Spectrum Incentive Auction.  Should this be the case, it seems likely the speculator would sell the station immediately or even close the station post-auction.”

The letter poses questions to the FCC on what procedures and criteria will be used for license transfers, and if it can ensure that news stations will exist after the auction.

In the planned television spectrum incentive auction, parties apply to become qualified bidders for one or more spectrum licenses and take part in an online auction for those licenses, according to the FCC. A spectrum allocation is that part of the airwaves reserved for a station to send out its TV signal.

Their sale is intended to make additional spectrum available for broadband, according to the website www.current.org.

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