FCC Puts NAB NextGen TV Petition Out for Comment

The FCC is seeking comment on a National Association of Broadcasters petition to clarify the application of the FCC's ATSC 3.0 (NextGen TV) rules to multicast streams. Those are the extra channels broadcasters got in the switch to digital.

A screengrab from a promo video for ATSC 3.0

(Image credit: ATSC)

As the Media Bureau framed the issue in issuing the request for comment, "NAB asks the Commission to recognize that in simulcasting arrangements involving multicast streams, the licensee who originated the programming rather than the licensee whose facilities are being used to distribute the programming is responsible for the programming.”

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Commenters have until Dec. 24 to comment and Jan. 25 to reply, which would push the proceeding past when a new FCC takes over under President Joe Biden.

(Look for some stakeholder, or stakeholders, to seek extra time to comment, which usually happens with comment deadlines that fall that close to a major holiday).

As they transition to the NextGen TV transmission standard, broadcasters want the FCC to clarify/modify the TV station license framework for simulcasting to extend to multicast streams.

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The FCC is allowing stations to partner on distribution arrangements so that broadcasters can continue to deliver a primary stream in ATSC 1.0 given that ATSC 3.0 is not backward compatible with current sets.

The National Association of Broadcasters, in a petition for declaratory rulemaking, wants the FCC to declare that various multi-station arrangements for hosting and originating multicast streams in ATSC 1.0 and 3.0 are OK.

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It said that extending the TV station license to cover multicast streams would help establish that the originating content provider, whether primary stream or multicast stream, is responsible for compliance with FCC rules, or liable for potential violations.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.