NAB joins suit against FCC on TV viewability


People watching TVAgape Church, London Broadcasting, Una Vez Mas and the NAB have challenged the FCC’s revision of the DTV transition rule requiring MVPDs to make sure subscribers have full access to analog and digital versions of must-carry television stations. Once again, the Commission is in the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia defending itself from charges of being arbitrary and capricious.

When the FCC said MVPDs could satisfy viewability with the offer of equipment at a reasonable cost, the plaintiffs said it went beyond the bounds of Congress’s clear and “unamibuous” intent.

In their summary argument, they wrote, “Foremost, Congress spoke to the precise question at issue in the Cable Act, and intended Section 614(b)(7) to require that must-carry signals be actually viewable without added equipment, not merely available in theory.”

They added, “In sum, applying traditional tools of statutory interpretation, Congress directly addressed the precise question at issue and made clear its intent that must-carry signals be actually viewable without additional equipment. Because the Commission adopted the precise opposite reading of Section 614(b)(7), fidelity to Congressional intent requires invalidation of the Order.”

In a statement, NAB said, “NAB believes the FCC decision could disenfranchise millions of viewers from access to broadcast stations providing foreign language, religious and other niche broadcast programming that have historically opted for ‘must-carry’ on cable systems.”