TV Satellite Station NPRM Moves Ahead


In a unanimous 5-0 vote, the FCC on Thursday (3/22) adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that asks whether the Commission should streamline the process for reauthorizing television satellite stations when they are assigned or transferred in combination with their previously approved parent station.

This is MB Docket Nos. 18-63 and 17-105, originating in the Media Bureau, and is captioned “Streamlined Reauthorization Procedures for Assigned or Transferred Television Satellite Stations.”

Television satellite stations are full-power terrestrial broadcast stations that generally retransmit some or all of the programming of a commonly owned parent station. These stations are generally excepted from broadcast ownership limits — most notably the local TV ownership rule — since they do not generate a significant amount of their own programming.

Before its spectrum was auctioned off in the FCC’s incentive auction for the tidy sum of $34.56 million and signed off on Dec. 1, 2017, Nexstar-owned WCDC-19 in Adams, Mass., was a key satellite station for ABC affiliate WTEN-10 in Albany, N.Y. With a tower on Mt. Greylock, WCDC gave a broadcast signal to communities across the Berkshires, Catskills and mid-Hudson Valley.

At present, if a satellite station is assigned or transferred to another owner and the new owner wishes to continue operating the station as a satellite, the new owner must seek reauthorization, a process that currently requires the same evidentiary showing required for an initial authorization.

The NPRM proposes to streamline this reauthorization process when a previously approved satellite station is assigned or transferred, and seeks comment on ways to reduce the costs and burdens of seeking a satellite reauthorization.

The item also seeks comment on whether or not to apply any streamlined processes the Commission adopts to transactions involving a change in a satellite station’s parent.