FCC: Let’s Rethink UHF Rule

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The Federal Communications Commission is having some second thoughts about its decision to count UHF stations at one-half their audience reach when tallying station groups’ compliance with the national ownership cap.

Friday the commission asked for industry and public comment on the so-called UHF discount, which media consolidation critics say is no longer justified.

Supporters of the discount say Congress endorsed the idea in January when it capped a company’s national reach at 39% of TV homes without altering the 19-year-old break for UHF owners.

The FCC is asking for input on the impact of the congressional action. Media Access Project and Capitol Broadcasting have asked the FCC to reverse its June 2 decision to retain the discount on grounds that cable carriage rights long ago erased its original purpose-to compensate UHF owners for their channels’ poor reception relative to VHF.

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