The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) today issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to consider whether to eliminate the UHF discount. The UHF discount is an exception to the national television ownership rule that prohibits a single entity from owning stations that reach in the aggregate more than 39% of total television households nationwide. Under the UHF discount, UHF stations count only 50% of the television households in their DMAs toward the cap.
The NPRM seeks comments on the following conclusions and proposals:
- The Commission has the authority to modify the national television ownership rule, including the authority to revise or eliminate the UHF discount;
- The UHF discount should be eliminated because the historical justification for the discount no longer exists;
- If the UHF discount is eliminated, existing broadcast station groups that will exceed the 39% cap should be grandfathered;
- Applications for station acquisitions that are pending or have been granted, but not yet consummated, also would be grandfathered;
- Grandfathered station groups that subsequently are sold or transferred would have to comply with the national ownership cap in place at the time of the transfer; and
- The Commission asks if it should consider adopting a discount for VHF stations.
Comments are due 30 days and reply comments are due 60 days after the date the NPRM is published in the Federal Register (we will update this post upon publication).