The FCC has adopted its proposed changes to the Next Generation TV rules (Next Gen or ATSC 3.0) that will allow Next Gen TV/ATSC 3.0 stations to seek modification of their licenses to include certain of their non-primary video programming streams (multicast streams) that are aired on “host” stations during a transitional period. The FCC generally adopted its 2021 proposals, is extending the sunset dates of the “substantially similar” and ATSC A/322 standard compliance requirements, and is asking for comment on the current marketplace for ATSC 3.0 Standard Essential Patents (SEPs). Comments will be due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, and reply comments will be due 90 days after publication.
Specifically, the FCC adopted the following:
Licensing of Multicast Streams
These multicast licensing rules will apply until the FCC eliminates the mandatory local simulcasting requirement.
The FCC declined to allow licensing of ATSC 3.0 non-simulcast multicast streams (aired as guest streams on a 3.0 host station) and declined to license same service or lateral hosting arrangements.
The FCC extended the sunset date of two requirements – the “substantially similar” rule and the ATSC A/322 requirement – to July 17, 2027. Under the substantially similar rule, Next Gen TV stations’ ATSC 1.0 simulcast programming must be “substantially similar” to that of the primary video programming stream on the ATSC 3.0 channel, meaning that the programming must be the same except for features based on the enhanced capabilities of ATSC 3.0 and promotions for upcoming programs. The A/322 requirement refers to the A/322:2016 “Physical Layer Protocol” that defines the waveforms that ATSC 3.0 signals may take. The FCC will initiate a review approximately one year before the requirements are set to expire to seek comment on whether they should be extended.
Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
The FCC is asking for comment on the current marketplace for ATSC 3.0 SEPs and the ability of third parties to develop products that rely on them. The FCC will further develop the record previously assembled in 2022. The FCC is specifically asking:
If you have questions about the ATSC 3.0 rules or would like to file comments in the proceeding, please contact an attorney in our Media practice group.