FCC Begins Broadcast Internet Services – TV Ownership Rules Do Not Apply to TV Spectrum Leased for Broadcast Internet Services

For years local TV stations have been allowed to provide ancillary or supplementary services on their excess spectrum capacity and to lease those rights to other entities.  However, the potential for these data services has gone largely unrealized, and few broadcasters even provide such services.

The ATSC 3.0 standard is Internet Protocol (IP) based and thus promises to expand the potential for broadcast spectrum capacity to support new services beyond traditional over-the-air video in ways that will complement the nation’s burgeoning 5G network. These new offerings can be referred to collectively as “Broadcast Internet” services.  TV stations may provide such services directly or indirectly, by entering into leasing arrangements with third parties to do so.

At today’s meeting, the FCC in a 5-0 vote clarified key rules that can affect the rollout of these new digital services: The Commission:

Issued a Declaratory Ruling: Removing regulatory uncertainty that could hinder the development of the new, innovative uses of broadcast spectrum that the ATSC 3.0 standard. The decision clarifies that long-standing television station ownership rules do not apply to the lease of spectrum to provide Broadcast Internet services.

Issued Notice of Proposed Rulemaking:  The Commission commenced a rule making proceeding that seeks comment on modifying rules that would promote the deployment of Broadcast Internet services as part of the transition to ATSC 3.0.  It also solicits comment on potential uses of the new technological capability associated with ATSC 3.0 and any existing regulatory barriers to deployment.  Finally, the Commission asks for comment on any changes or clarifications that are needed to the ancillary and supplementary service fee rules and/or the rules defining derogation of service and analogous services.

To see the FCC proposed decision click HERE.


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