With the first phase of the post-incentive auction repack rapidly approaching, licensees of full power and Class A television stations should be mindful of upcoming deadlines for notifications to multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), medical facilities, and viewers. The requirements apply both to stations that submitted a successful bid to change bands and to stations that are changing channels due to the repack.
For your reference, we have included a brief summary of these requirements below.
- MVPD Notifications: A transitioning station must provide notice to MVPDs that will be obligated to carry the station on its new post-auction channel at least 90 days prior to the date on which the station will begin operations on its post-auction channel. Accordingly, stations transitioning at the start of the testing period for Phase 1 will need to send their notices as early as June 16, 2018.
- For cable systems, each notice should be sent to the official address in the FCC’s COALS database.
- For all other MVPDs, each notice should be sent to the official corporate address registered with the MVPD’s State of Incorporation.
- The notices should include the following information: (i) date and time of any channel changes, (ii) pre-auction and post-auction channels, (iii) modification (if any) to antenna position, location or power levels, (iv) stream identification information for channel sharing stations, and (v) engineering staff contact information.
- Medical Notifications: Each construction permit for a transitioning station broadcasting a digital signal includes a condition to “make a good faith effort to identify and notify health care facilities (e.g., hospitals, nursing homes, see 47 CFR 15.242(a)(1)) within your service area potentially affected by your DTV operations.”
- The FCC does not provide a central database of health care facilities, but there are third party services that can provide these notifications on a station’s behalf.
- The following relevant technical information should be provided so the medical facility can evaluate the potential for interference: (i) post-auction channel, (ii) targeted on-air date, (iii) effective radiated power, (iv) antenna location, and (v) antenna height.
- Stations should provide medical notifications with ample time before commencing operation.
- Consumer Education: A transitioning station is required to provide consumer education regarding its post-auction transition in the form of public service announcements and/or crawls for at least 30 days prior to the date on which the station will begin operations on its post-auction channel.
- Both commercial and noncommercial stations changing channels must: (i) air 60 seconds per day of on air education, PSAs, or crawls for 30 days prior to the station’s termination of operations on its pre-auction channel; and (ii) provide instructions (via PSAs, crawls or on air education) to over-the-air and MVPD viewers about how to continue watching the station.
- Crawls must: (i) be provided in the same language as a majority of the programming carried by the station, (ii) include the date the station will terminate operations on its pre-auction channel, (iii) inform viewers of the need to rescan (if moving to a different channel), and (iv) explain how viewers may obtain more information by telephone or online (by calling or emailing the station or the FCC).
- PSAs must: (i) run for a minimum of 15 seconds and contain the same information as crawls, and (iii) be closed captioned.
Transitioning stations must place a certification of their compliance with the medical notification and consumer education requirements in their public files.