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FCC Gives TV Broadcasters a Potential Break on Expenses in Carriage Election Notifications

The FCC’s newly revised “kid vid” rules garnered most of the headlines from last week’s commission meeting, but TV broadcasters should take note of the FCC’s adoption of a Report and Order that will affect the next round of carriage election notices in October 2020.

The order allows TV broadcasters to give notice to cable systems electronically, rather than by certified mail, a change that could save stations a little money. It also requires broadcasters to post a statement in their online public inspection files on whether the station has elected must-carry or retransmission consent on MVPDs in their market.

“If the station has elected one carriage option for all systems, the notice can be as simple as “station WXYZ has elected must-carry on all cable systems in the any town DMA,” said David Oxenford, an attorney with TAB Associate member law firm Wilkinson Barker Knauer.

“If the station decides to change that election for any MVPD, they can notify the MVPD of the change by email.”

Oxenford notes that MVPDs must register a contact person for the receipt of such notices in their public inspection files and in the FCC’s COALS database, so that broadcasters know who to contact if they are planning to change their election. 

Broadcasters can email a notice of a changed election to the cable system with a copy to a new FCC email address. Stations should also place a copy of the election in the station’s online public inspection file.

“The order requires cable systems to electronically acknowledge the receipt of the notice, but if they don’t, broadcasters must call the COALS-registered person at the registered phone number to make sure that the notice has been received,” Oxenford said.

If the cable system doesn’t respond, Oxenford added, notices to the FCC and in the station’s public inspection file will suffice. 

TV broadcasters should read the full order and review all of the nuances of the new carriage election notice system.

Questions?  Contact TAB's Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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