FCC Revises Definition of 'Unencrypted Broadcast TV'

The FCC noted last week that there might be some discrepancy in how unencrypted broadcast television is defined in its recent rulemaking on commercial availability of navigation devices and compatibility between cable systems and consumer electronics equipment.

After the commission released its Second Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the sale of navigation devices and plug and play, "a potential conflict between our stated intent and the scope of the rules became apparent," the FCC said. "The limitation of the encoding rules for broadcast television programming to 'Unencrypted Broadcast Television' could inadvertently be interpreted to create a competitive disparity in so far as certain MVPDs encrypt their broadcast signals while others do not. The resulting imbalance could also negatively impact consumers who would otherwise expect to have the same viewing and recording capabilities for broadcast television programming regardless of distribution platform. "To prevent this from happening, the FCC modified its definition of 'unencrypted broadcast television.' Section 76.1902(s) now reads:

§76.1902 Definitions
(s) Unencrypted broadcast television means the retransmission by a covered entity of any service, program, or schedule or group of programs originally broadcast in the clear without use of a commercially adopted access control method by a terrestrial television broadcast station regardless of whether such covered entity employs an access control method as a part of its retransmission.

For additional information, see the FCC Order on Reconsideration (FCC 03-329).