As we reported last month, the Commission – at Congress’s insistence – is gearing up to prepare a “Report on In-State Broadcast Programming”. Congress’s interest in this arose from claims that some satellite subscribers are wrongfully denied satellite access to broadcast stations located in the same state because the station and subscribers are in different DMAs. Those claims surfaced during the legislative deliberations leading up to the enactment of STELA, so Congress included a section in STELA specifically directing the Commission to check into the matter and report back.
The report, due to be submitted to Congress next August, will: (1) analyze the number of households in a state that receive the signals of local broadcast stations assigned to a community of license located in a different state; (2) evaluate the extent to which consumers in each local market have access to in-state broadcast programming over-the-air or from a multichannel video programming distributor; and (3) consider whether there are alternatives to DMAs to define “local” markets that would provide consumers with more in-state broadcast programming. The FCC will be looking to identify counties and associated populations within specific states that have limited access to in-state broadcast programming.
Also as we reported, the Commission issued a public notice requesting comments and reply comments to assist in the preparation of the report. The FCC’s public notice has now been published in the Federal Register, which sets the comment deadlines. Mark your calendars: comments are due by January 24, 2011 and reply comments are due by February 22, 2011.