On Thursday afternoon, the FCC released the text of a draft Order that would grant a Petition for Reconsideration and reinstate the “discount” applied to UHF television stations when calculating compliance with the 39% national TV ownership cap. The Commission will vote on the Order at its April 20, 2017 open meeting.
The FCC adopted the UHF discount in 1985, explaining that it compensated for the fact that the signal strength of a UHF television signal decreased more rapidly with distance, resulting in smaller coverage areas and smaller audience reach.
In September, the Commission voted to eliminate the UHF discount, finding that there is “there is no remaining technical justification” for the discount.
The proposed Order would reverse that action, finding that because the discount is “inextricably linked to the national ownership cap,” it was arbitrary and capricious for the FCC to eliminate the discount without considering “whether this de facto tightening of the national cap was in the public interest and justified by current marketplace conditions.” Although the draft Order would not itself consider the national cap, it includes a commitment to “launch a comprehensive rulemaking proceeding later this year to determine whether to retain it and/or modify the national cap.”