FCC to Vote on Carriage Election Compromise

It looks like the days of certified mail carriage elections are going the way of the pony express.

The FCC will vote July 10 on adopting a broadcast and cable compromise approach to carriage elections notifications, as well as extending it to DBS carriage elections. It is expected to be approved. 

Related: FCC Denies KMTP Must-Carry Election Complaint 

The FCC sought comment last December on the proposal, which came from NCTA-The Internet & Television Association and the National Association of Broadcasters. It allows broadcasters' triennial carriage elections--must carry or retrans--to be posted to their online FCC public files, rather than the current requirement that they be made to the MVPD via certified mail.  

Broadcasters will only be required to inform MVPDS--and it can be by email rather than certified mail--if they change their election. 

Broadcasters and cable operators will have to maintain a designated phone number and e-mail address for carriage elections in their FCC public files and cable operators will have to verify receipt of carriage election emails they get from stations. 

ACA Connects had said smaller cable operators might need more time to comply and asked the FCC to give them that time and require broadcasters to keep sending the registered mail elections in the interim. The FCC was unpersuaded, and said all cable operators would need to have their new contact info to the FCC by July 31, 2020. "Although we recognize ACA’s concerns, we find that the burdens of our new rules will be minimal for small cable operators and that it will not take any entity a great amount of time to come into compliance," the FCC order says. 

The FCC will also vote on a Further Notice seeking input on how to deal with any broadcasters and MVPDs that don't maintain public databases at the FCC. They will have to continue with the certified mail elections until that issue is resolved.  

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.