As we head into Summer, it’s important for TV broadcasters to remember the upcoming deadlines this Fall associated with notifying multichannel video program distributors (“MVPDs”) – primarily cable TV and direct broadcast satellite operators – of the station’s election of either must-carry or retransmission consent carriage status on the MVPD systems. Two critical deadlines are coming up: by July 31st, TV broadcasters and MVPDs must make sure that contact information on file with the FCC is up-to-date; and by October 1st, all TV stations must upload their must-carry/retransmission consent elections.
In our March 10, 2020 blog, we reported that the FCC had replaced its long-standing requirement that Stations notify MVPDs of their carriage elections through letters sent by certified mail. Rather, most stations must now upload their carriage elections to their online public inspection file (“OPIF”), with notices sent by email to MVPDs only when and if a station changes its election from the previous election cycle.
As a prelude to that new approach, by July 31st all TV stations that have the right to elect must-carry status must upload both email and telephone contact information for carriage inquiries from cable and satellite operators. For full power commercial and non-commercial stations, and Class A stations, this information must be uploaded into the station’s OPIF. For low power TV and non-commercial educational translator stations that qualify for carriage but do not have an OPIF, the station data must be uploaded to the Commission’s Licensing and Management System (“LMS”) database. In any case, the email and telephone information must be kept current, and stations must respond promptly to any inquiry from an MVPD received through either contact method.
Similarly, by July 31st all cable operators have to provide a designated carriage election e-mail address, where broadcasters will send election change notices, and a phone number for broadcasters to use in the event of questions as to whether the cable operator received the station’s election notice. This contact information for cable operators must be loaded into the Cable Operations and Licensing System (“COALS”) portion of the FCC’s website.
If you have any questions about this, please contact us.