We are coming up on the first anniversary of the FCC’s vote to propose— propose, mind you, not adopt—eliminating the UHF discount.
Broadcasters have already had to operate as though getting rid of the discount was a done deal. That is an FCC process that needs reforming.
The vote was along party lines and did not even include two of the five commissioners who will now have to, eventually, vote on a final order.
The September 2013 vote was on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). That was followed by a comment period—followed then by, well, nothing.
Among the questions asked in the NPRM were whether there were “other strategies we should consider or employ to address existing broadcast station ownership groups that would exceed the 39% limit if the UHF discount were eliminated?”
Why yes, said some commenters. The FCC could transfer the discount from UHF to VHF, since their relative spectrum value had switched places after the DTV transition.
If the FCC did that, perhaps some of the deals that have not been done because the FCC is already treating the discount as history could have been completed.
The bottom line is that the FCC seems to be regulating by NPRM, which makes broadcasters’ lives even tougher. Almost a year with no vote? To borrow a line from ESPN: C’mon, man.
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