FCC to Facilitate ATSC 3.0 with “Broadcast Internet Rules”

Last June, the Commission initiated a proceeding to encourage the provision of “Broadcast Internet Services”. It first issued a Declaratory Ruling clarifying  that leasing excess broadcast television spectrum to a third party, including another broadcaster, for the provision of ancillary and supplementary services does not result in attribution under our broadcast television station ownership rules or for any other requirements related to television station attribution.

It also issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on any rule changes needed to further promote regulatory certainty and greater investment in innovative “Broadcast Internet Services”.  At its December meeting, the FCC is expected to adopt all the proposals contained in the NPRM.  Specifically the FCC plans to:

  • Calculate ancillary and supplementary service fees based on the gross revenue received by the broadcaster rather than revenue received by a spectrum lessee, except to the extent the broadcaster has a stake in the lessee itself;
  • Exclude from gross revenue the value of “in-kind” facility improvements made or financed by third parties in order to transition a station to, or help a station fully utilize the benefits of, ATSC 3.0; and
  • Retain the existing standard for derogation of broadcast service but amend the rule to eliminate an outdated reference to analog television.
  • Decline to adjust the 5% ancillary and supplementary service fee for commercial stations at this time.
  • Recognize the unique public service mission of noncommercial educational (NCE) television stations by adopting a number of additional proposals designed to preserve and expand this essential mission through the provision of Broadcast Internet services.
  • Permit an NCE to use its spectrum primarily not only for free, over-the-air nonprofit, noncommercial, educational, television broadcasting, but also for nonprofit, noncommercial, educational (“primary”) ancillary and supplementary services; and
  • Adopt a reduced fee of 2.5% for NCEs on gross revenue generated by such “primary” ancillary and supplementary services.

The adoption of these rules will provide certainty and help the deployment of ATSC 3.0.  To see the FCC proposed decision click HERE.


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