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FCC: Comment Window Is Wide Open

Related: Top Station Groups Align Behind Near-Complete Standard

The FCC is giving interested parties plenty of time to weigh in on the proposal to allow TV broadcasters to start rolling out the ATSC 3.0 next-generation transmission standard.

The FCC unanimously voted in February—with some reservations by Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn—to support the rollout, provided that broadcasters continue to transmit content in the current ATSC standard: ATSC 3.0 is not compatible with current TV sets.

On March 10, the commission’s decision, in summary form, was published in the Federal Register. That triggers the official comment-and-reply periods, which the FCC set at 60 and 90 days, respectively.

Commenters have until May 9 to weigh in, with reply comments due on June 8.

Among the questions the FCC posed in its notice of proposed rulemaking are whether or not to mandate that ATSC 3.0 tuners be included in new TVs, with the agency tentatively concluding it is not yet time for such a mandate. Also up for comment: whether or not MVPD carriage of the new signals via retransmission-consent agreements should be barred until the FCC has gathered more data, thus easing initial MVPD carriage burdens. Commenters also can weigh in on how broadcasters should notify viewers about the new standard.

Cable operators as well as broadcasters are interested in what their carriage responsibilities and options will be in regards to the ATSC 3.0 rollout.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai has said he wants to have a final order ready for a vote by year-end.