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NAB Calls on FCC to Adopt New Rules for Broadcast Internet

(Image credit: NAB)

WASHINGTON—The National Association of Broadcasters this week recommended to the FCC that it adopt new ownership rules that would encourage broadcasters to offer “Broadcast Internet” services via ATSC 3.0 (aka NextGen TV).

The FCC is currently seeking input on revising legacy ownership rules that could hinder agreements between broadcasters and third parties to provide IP services over ATSC 3.0, which combines over-the-air broadcasting with IP. Broadcasters have been touting ATSC 3.0’s “one to many” broadcast concept as an efficient way to deliver IP services to consumers and businesses alike. The commission plans to vote on the proposal at its June meeting. 

In a letter to the FCC, NAB Associate General Counsel Patrick McFadden said, “Broadcasters are excited about the potential benefits of the new standard not only to provide the next generation of television service, but also to offer new and innovative services to benefit the American consumer.”

As the deployment of ATSC 3.0 gets underway, broadcasters are collaborating to allow multiple stations in the same market to broadcast ATSC 3.0 over one signal. Last week’s announcement of the deployment of ATSC 3.0 in Las Vegas, for example, involves four stations broadcasting from one antenna owned by Sinclair Broadcast. 

McFadden asked the commission to revise its proposal that removes “ambiguity” over whether or not the new rules would apply to such temporary simulcasting arrangements.  

“We note that, in its order authorizing the voluntary use of the ATSC 3.0 transmission standard, the Commission similarly stated it would not apply the broadcast ownership rules in any situation where airing an ATSC 3.0 signal or an ATSC 1.0 simulcast on a temporary host station’s facility would result in a potential violation of those rules,” McFadden said. “Pursuant to that order, such temporary simulcasting arrangements do not constitute a cognizable interest under our attribution rules.”

NAB also took issue with comments filed this week by the Open Technology Institute at New America (OTI) that recommended ancillary fees that broadcasters earn via services beyond the core ATSC 1.0 signal should be increased if broadcasters want to offer internet services over ATSC 3.0. 

“NAB urges the Commission not to accept the invitation of the Open Technology Institute at New America (OTI) to use the NPRM as an opportunity to increase regulatory burdens on broadcasters,” the association told the FCC. “OTI’s letter reflects its continued limited understanding of broadcasting technology generally and potential Broadcast Internet applications specifically. More generally, heightening regulatory requirements around this novel technology will only hamper innovation and hamstring broadcasters seeking to better serve their communities.”