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Guild Pans UHF Discount

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TV writers are telling the FCC to get rid of the UHF discount or watch independent programming continue to dwindle on broadcast TV.

The Writers Guild of America West was the first trade group to weigh in with the FCC on the discount, asking the commission to ditch it. The FCC only counts onehalf of a UHF audience toward its 39% cap on national audience reach, dating from the days when UHFs were the redheaded stepchildren of the TV band.

The FCC has been considering getting rid of the UHF discount at least since the switch to digital. But the vote in September to tentatively eliminate it came after several broadcast group deals to heavy up—most notably Sinclair—left the impression the FCC might be trying to limit “supergroup” agreements.

The WGAW is fine with that impression. It points out that getting rid of the discount would push Sinclair and Fox closer to the 39% national cap and prevent the further consolidation WGAW says threatens independent programming.