This week, the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Significant Viewing was published in the Federal Register, setting a comment deadline of May 14, with reply comments due by June 15. The NPRM asks for comments as to whether the FCC should update its rules for establishing whether or not a TV station is “significantly viewed” in a market other than the one in which it is located, and whether the FCC has the statutory authority to make changes to these rules that have largely been in effect since 1972.
A determination of significantly viewed status is important for determining whether a cable system or satellite television company will carry a TV station in areas that are not part of its home market. For FCC purposes, significantly viewed stations generally are not subject to the network nonduplication and syndicated exclusivity protections provided to home market stations – meaning that their programming that duplicates that of a local station need not be blacked out by the MVPD at the request of the local station that has the rights to such programming in that market. For copyright purposes, if a station has significantly viewed status, the MVPD pays at the low rates applicable to a local station pays for the compulsory copyright license needed to carry all of the programming of a television station. If the station is not significantly viewed, the much higher “distant signal” rate applies, giving the MVPD far less incentive to carry such stations.
Continue Reading Comment Dates Set on Possible Revision to Rules on Significantly Viewed Television Stations for MVPD Carriage Purposes – What Is Being Asked?