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FCC Adopts Additional Multicast Licensing Rules for NextGen TV Deployment

Last week, the FCC enacted additional rules to govern the rollout of ATSC 3.0 or NextGen TV. The new regulations address several issues concerning the obligation of TV stations. Some of the highlights of the Third Report and order are as follows:

  • The FCC generally adopted its proposal in the NextGen TV Multicast Licensing FNPRM to allow a NextGen TV station to seek a modification of its license to include some of its non-primary video programming streams (multicast streams) that are aired on “host” stations during a transitional period.

  • The Commission will follow the same licensing framework and to a large extent the same regulatory regime, established for the simulcast of primary video programming streams on “host” station facilities.

  • The FCC extended the sunsets of, and thus retain in effect until at least July 17, 2027, the substantially similar rule for simulcast streams and the requirement to comply with the ATSC A/322 standard on primary 3.0 streams.

  • Given that NextGen TV stations must, without any additional spectrum allocation, continue serving ATSC 1.0 viewers while voluntarily transitioning to ATSC 3.0, the FCC took actions that will minimize viewer disruption as much as possible during this limited transition period.

  • The Commission will permit stations in a market to work together to preserve viewers’ access to ATSC 1.0-formatted programming during the transition. This policy will simultaneously facilitate broadcasters’ voluntary transition to ATSC 3.0, which can provide consumers with the benefit of new and innovative services while protecting the vast majority of over-the-air TV viewers who continue to rely on 1.0 equipment.

The FCC also sought additional comments on several issues. In a Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (RAND FNPRM), the Commission seeks further comment on the current marketplace for ATSC 3.0 Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) and the ability of third parties to develop products that rely upon them. It also sought comment on the impact on consumers if the Commission were to adopt, or not adopt, rules to require essential patent holders in 3.0 technology to commit to licensing them on reasonable and non-discriminatory (RAND) terms.

You can access the FCC’s NextGen TV decision here.

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