While it’s only July, TV station licensees should be mindful of an October 1st deadline for uploading to their station online public information file (“OPIF”), the station’s election of cable TV/satellite must-carry or retransmission consent status.    

Under the FCC’s rules, for full power and certain Class A/Low Power commercial TV stations, there is a three-year cycle for electing between carriage pursuant to must-carry or retransmission consent on cable TV/satellite systems (otherwise known as multichannel video programming distributors, or “MVPDs”).   The current three-year cycle ends on December 31, 2023.   Elections for the next cycle (which begins on January 1, 2024) must be uploaded by October 1, 2023.  

Commercial full power and eligible Class A TV stations do not need to make separate elections for each MVPD – one blanket election is sufficient if the station is electing the same status for all MVPDs.   If a station elects retransmission consent on some systems, and must-carry on others, then it must specify each separate election in its online election notice.    

Election notices generally need not be sent to MVPDs.  Notice needs to be sent to an MVPD only when and if the station’s election status vis a vis that MVPD changes (must-carry to retransmission consent or vice versa, or a first-time election).  Change notices must include the station’s call letters; community of license; Designated Market Area; and station contact information (name, email, phone number).  A copy of the status change notice must be emailed to the cable operator at the address listed in the “Carriage Election Contact Information” in the cable operator’s OPIF, with a copy sent to ElectionNotices@fcc.gov, and uploaded to the station’s OPIF.     

Because full power non-commercial educational stations do not have the option of electing retransmission consent, they are not required to upload cable TV election notices, but they still must upload their satellite carriage requests to the station’s OPIF.    

In any case, stations should make sure that the “Carriage Election Contact Information” in their OPIF remains accurate.    

Since low power TV stations do not maintain an OPIF, LPTVs that have must-carry rights and are currently carried on an MVPD need not do anything if the station is not changing election status, but if the station is changing status, or making initial elections, then they must email their elections to the MVPD, and copy ElectionNotices@fcc.gov.  The email to the cable operator should be to the address listed in the “Carriage Election Contact Information” in the cable operator’s OPIF.   

Please contact us if you have questions regarding eligibility for carriage, the process of electing carriage status, or the form of election notices.