National Cap NPRM Up For December FCC Vote


Democrats across Washington are crowing about another turkey gobbing around the Portals.

Republicans are eyeing the next step that would bring further relief to broadcast media companies that are evermore challenged in their quest to compete against digital and social media.

No matter how you view it, the FCC will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at its December 14 Open Meeting that seeks comment on the FCC’s national television multiple ownership rule, also known as the national cap, including the “UHF discount.”

The draft NPRM was authored by Chairman Ajit Pai, who circulated it to fellow Commissioners today, ahead of its public availability tomorrow (11/22).

Pai first explained why the “UHF discount” was brought back by the Commission.

“Earlier this year, the Commission reinstated the UHF discount, finding that the prior FCC’s decision last year to eliminate it absent a simultaneous review of the 39% national cap effectively tightened the cap without determining whether that was in the public interest,” Pai said. “Because the national cap and the UHF discount are inextricably linked, any review of one component of the rule must include a review of the other.”

This view is held by all Republicans, and gives the Pai-led FCC the full authority to review all of the broadcast ownership rules in the same manner.

Under the proposal that Pai shared with his colleagues, “we would go about determining the future of the national cap, including the UHF discount, the right way.”

Specifically, the FCC would seek public input on whether to modify, retain, or eliminate the 39% national cap, as well as the UHF discount.

“With respect to legal authority, in 2016 the Commission ‘conclude[d] that [it] has the authority to modify the national audience reach cap, including the authority to revise or eliminate the UHF discount’; we will take a fresh look at this issue as well,” Pai said.

He added that a comprehensive review of the rule is warranted “in light of considerable marketplace changes, such as technological developments and increased video programming options for consumers, since the cap was last modified in 2004.”