FCC Seeks Comments on Educational TV Carriage Notice Rules

(Image credit: FCC)

WASHINGTON—With America’s Public Television Stations and PBS having filed a petition requesting the FCC waive a current “baseline” carriage notification deadline, the Media Bureau has opened the floor to others on the subject, asking for comments.

The petition requests that the Media Bureau waive the requirement that noncommercial educational (NCE) TV translators email a carriage notice to MVPDs on which they will be seeking or expecting carriage in the 2021-2023 carriage cycle by Oct. 1 of this year. They believe that given the unique characteristics of NCE translators, this one-time email would prove to be an issue and risk the loss of coverage for viewers.

In 2019, the FCC adopted rules that updated carriage election notice rules for full power broadcast stations and sought comments on placing similar rules on qualified low power TV stations and NCE translators. Among the new rules was that covered stations had to send carriage notices to MVPDs via email and to place carriage election statements into their online public files.

The FCC found that requiring placement on online public files for LPTVs and NCEs would be unduly burdensome since those stations do not currently maintain online public files. Rather, the commission found that in order to provide “baseline” info to MVPDs, both groups had to send these one-time email notifications by Oct. 1.

APTS and PBS petition that, unlike LPTVs, NCEs do not have to provide notification to be automatically carried by MVPDs under the Communications Act of 1934. The petition argues that in many cases, NCE translators don’t even know which MVPDs carry them and have no resource to determine that. As a result, even a one-time email creates a “substantial burden,” according to the petition.

The Media Bureau now seeks comments on these arguments from APTS and PBS. Comments will be due Sept. 8, with reply comments then due on Sept. 14.

Here is the official notice from the FCC