By December 1, 2008, all commercial and noncommercial digital television (DTV) stations must electronically file an FCC Form 317 with the Commission reporting on whether the station has provided any ancillary and supplementary services during the twelve-month period ending on September 30, 2008.
Under the Commission’s Rules, in addition to providing free over-the-air broadcast television, DTV stations are permitted to offer services of any nature, consistent with the public interest, convenience, and necessity, on an ancillary or supplementary basis. Some examples of the kinds of services that may be provided include computer software distribution, data transmissions, teletext, interactive materials, aural messages, paging services, audio signals, and subscription video. Unlike in years past, this year all DTV stations — regardless of whether the station holds a DTV license or is operating pursuant to Special Temporary Authority (STA), program test authority (PTA), or some other authority — must file a Form 317 reporting whether it provided such services and generated any income. If the station did provide such ancillary services, then the FCC wants to know about it. More importantly, if the station generated revenue from the provision of such services, the FCC wants its 5% cut of the gross revenues derived from such service. The Form 317 is very brief, soliciting information about the license and the types of services provided, if any, and must be filed electronically through the CDBS filing system.