And this year we DO mean ALL DTV broadcasters 

Hey, all you DTV broadcasters! Before you start to carve the turkey and settle in for a long Thanksgiving weekend of football later this week, don’t forget to make a note in your calendar that Form 317 is due at the FCC by December 1. Form 317 is the “Digital Ancillary/Supplementary Services” Report on which you have to report whether, between October 1, 2101 – September 30, 2011, your DTV station provided any ancillary or supplementary services for a fee and, if so, how much revenue the station received. If you did provide any such services, then you’ve got to fork over five percent of the gross revenues you got from them (the payment to be accompanied by a completed Form 159, thank you very much.)

“Ancillary or supplementary services” include any services that are provided using the portion of a facility’s spectrum that is not needed for its required one free broadcast signal.  Multiple video streams that are received free by the public are not considered to be ancillary or supplementary services.

This year, we truly mean all digital broadcasters of television programming, including TV translators, LPTV and Class A television stations, whether operating pursuant to a license, program test authority, or Special Temporary Authority.

As we reported last year, way back in 2001 the Commission had made noises about requiring digital Class A TV licensees to file Form 317 (and pay their share of any ancillary/supplementary fees they may have reaped). And then in 2004 it made similar noises about digital LPTV and TV translators. But despite its clearly stated intentions, the Commission neglected to jump through all the necessary bureaucratic hoops. As a result, translator/LPTV/Class A licensees have thus far been off the hook on this reporting requirement.

Not any more. The report is now required of all digital TV broadcasters.

Note that even digital TV stations that offered no such services must still file Form 317 report by December 1. Obviously, if you offered no such services, the report will be short and you won’t have to do any calculations or pay any money to the Commission – but, if you have a facility that is operating digitally to broadcast television programming, the FCC wants a Form 317 report from you.

As with most forms these days, the Form 317 must be filed electronically through CDBS. Also, keep in mind for planning purposes that only one station goes on each report. Thus, if you are a licensee with a number of digital translators, you’ll probably need to allow more time for filing.

If you would like any help in navigating the electronic filing or have any questions about the form and what needs to be included, please let us know. While we won’t help with any payments that may be due, we can assist you in the filing process.