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FCC Proposes Relaxing Ownership Rules for Broadcasters to Deliver Internet Services

(Image credit: FCC)

WASHINGTON—FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has revealed a plan to loosen media ownership rules to allow broadcasters to provide “Broadcast Internet” services via ATSC 3.0 (aka “NextGen TV”).

The new standard, currently being deployed nationwide by broadcasters, combines traditional terrestrial broadcasting with an “IP pipe,” to deliver a range of internet services over the same broadcast TV spectrum that is already deployed. Carr first described the new service as a “new and competitive broadband pipe,” at the 2019 NAB Show when the industry announced a plan to deploy ATSC 3.0 in 40 markets by the end of 2020. The concept of using broadcast as a “one-to-many” service that could deliver high-speed broadband, up to 25 Mbps, has been touted as an advantage over cellular’s “one-to-one” scenario.

The FCC is expected to vote on a Declaratory Ruling and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that Carr drafted at its June Open Meeting.

The Declaratory Ruling would ensure that Broadcast Internet is not subject to legacy media regulations, clarifying that FCC’s broadcast TV station ownership rules don’t apply to leasing agreements between broadcasters and third parties for Broadcast Internet services.

“This will help ensure that market forces determine the highest and best use of Broadcast Internet services and allow innovators to generate the geographic footprint that may be needed to deliver competitive offerings,” said Carr.

The NPRM would then seek to clarify or modify the FCC’s existing rules to further promote the deployment of Broadcast Internet services.

Carr says that Broadcast Internet could be pivotal in development of autonomous vehicles, IoT, telemedicine and other applications. 

“ATSC 3.0 is the technology that will allow broadcasters to play an even greater role in this converged market for connectivity,” he said.

Both the NAB and the CTA voiced their support for Carr’s plans as innovative ways to develop and utilize next-gen broadcast technology.

Fellow FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly also tweeted his support.