The UHF discount allows commercial broadcast television station owners to discount the audience reach of UHF stations when calculating their compliance with the national television ownership rule. It is thus inextricably linked to the national ownership cap. When the Commission voted to get rid of the discount, however, it failed to consider whether this defacto tightening of the national cap was in the public interest and justified by current marketplace conditions. This mistake renders the past action arbitrary and capricious. It also means that it was unwise from a public policy perspective. Thus the commission is reinstating the UHF discount for the time being and will launch a comprehensive rule making proceeding later this year to determine whether to retain it and/or modify the national cap. Because they are reinstating the UHF discount, requests to reconsider and modify the grandfathering provisions applicable to broadcast station combinations affected by elimination of the discount are dismissed as moot. For the same reason, the claim that failure to consider the need for a VHF discount in conjunction with elimination of the UHF discount is in error is also dismissed as moot.
The Federal Communications Commission voted to reinstate the so-called “UHF discount ” until the Commission can address its national television ownership rule more holistically, in a proceeding to be launched later this year. The action effectively returns the marketplace to the status quo that existed prior to August 2016, whereby stations broadcasting in the UHF spectrum are permitted to count 50 percent of the television households in their market when determining compliance with the 39 percent national cap. In August 2016, the Commission eliminated on a party-line vote the UHF discount. The Order finds that this action had the effect of substantially tightening the national cap for companies without any analysis of whether this tightening was warranted given current marketplace conditions. The FCC now concludes that the UHF discount and national television ownership cap are inextricably linked and that the Commission’s previous decision erred by getting rid of the UHF discount without simultaneously considering whether the cap itself should be modified. The Commission plans to take up both the question of the 39 percent cap and the UHF discount later this year. Until then, the action reinstates the pre-August 2016 status quo in the marketplace.
Today, the Federal Communications Commission announced the closing of the broadcast incentive auction, which created a first-of-its kind market for repurposing valuable broadcast airwaves for nationwide wireless mobile use. At $19.8 billion in gross revenue for 70MHz of spectrum, the incentive auction is among the highest grossing auctions ever conducted by the FCC. The Commission now commences a 39-month transition period to move broadcast stations to new channel assignments. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said, “The conclusion of the world’s first incentive auction is a major milestone in the FCC’s long history as steward of the nation’s airwaves. Consumers are the real beneficiaries, as broadcasters invest new resources in programming and service, and additional wireless spectrum opens the way to greater competition and innovation in the mobile broadband marketplace.”
The Incentive Auction Task Force and the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau announce the availability of educational materials regarding incentive auction data files for both the reverse auction (Auction 1001) and forward auction (Auction 1002), and the immediate post-auction process for the forward auction. Specifically, the FCC has posted to the Auction 1001 and Auction 1002 websites a document specifying the formats of the results files for each auction and other files that will be publicly available after release of the Incentive Auction Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice. In addition, the FCC has posted to the Auction 1002 website a forward auction post-auction online tutorial. Continue reading “File Formats Available For the Incentive Auction Reverse And Forward Auction Results; Online Tutorial Available For The Immediate Post-Auction Process For The Forward Auction”