The IT Law Wiki


A low-power television station (LPTV) is a television station that

transmit[s] over a smaller area and most are subject to fewer regulatory requirements than full-power stations. In addition, they operate at lower power levels: The maximum effective radiated power level for a digital low-power television station will range from 3 kilowatts for very-high frequency (VHF) channels to 15 kilowatts for ultra-high frequency (UHF) channels, while the maximum effective radiated power level for a digital full-power television station ranges from 10 kilowatts for VHF to 1,000 kilowatts for UHF.[1]


Low-power television stations, as indicated by their name, operate at lower power levels and transmit over a smaller area than full-power television stations. Low-power television station licensees can include municipalities, universities, nonprofit groups, and small businesses. The development of low-power television stations has evolved since the FCC’s 1956 order allowing licensing of low-power translator stations.

FCC has maintained that most low-power television service is a “secondary service,” meaning low-power television stations may not cause interference to, and must accept interference from, full-power television stations, which are classified as a "primary service." When interference cannot be remedied by adjusting an antenna or other technological methods, low-power television stations must vacate the channel. In such cases, low-power television stations can submit a displacement application to the FCC requesting permission to move to another channel or they can request permission to turn off their broadcast signal while searching for another channel.

Cable and satellite providers are generally not required to carry signals from low-power television stations, but some low-power television stations are carried by cable or satellite systems in situations where the low-power station wants to be carried and the cable or satellite provider decides to carry it.


The FCC uses the term “low-power television stations” to collectively refer to three types of stations: (1) translator stations; (2) low-power television stations that are not translator or Class A stations, which FCC refers to as "LPTV stations"; and (3) Class A stations.

FCC’s rules allow stations with LPTV licenses to retransmit another station’s signals, but the rules also allow LPTV stations to originate programming.