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FCC Sets UHF TV Discount Comment Deadlines

The FCC has set the comment deadlines for its proposal to eliminate the UHF discount, and it signals there will be no vote on a final order until at least early next year.

Comments will be due no later than Dec. 16, with reply comments due no later than Jan. 13.

The FCC actually voted the NPRM back in September and set 30- and 60-day comment deadlines, which would have been by the end of this month if the clock started then. But per standard operating procedure, comment deadlines aren't set until the NPRM is printed in the Federal Register, which just happened Nov. 14.

The House Communications Subcommittee may be delivering some of their comments in person. Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) told reporters Thursday (Nov. 14) that he would be scheduling an oversight hearing with the fully-constituted FCC next month.

He and other Republicans weren't happy that, as part of the NPRM, the FCC said it would treat any deal filed after the NPRM was released as though the UHF discount were no longer in place. He argues that freezes the marketplace and suggested that the FCC was acting in "less than a responsible" way.

The discount means — or meant — that the FCC only counted half a UHF TV stations audience toward the 39% cap on national audience for any broadcast TV group.

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.