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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).
COMMISSION ADOPTS RULES ESTABLISHING A
Washington - The Federal Communications Commission yesterday adopted rules
establishing a Class A television service. Class A licenses will be available to qualifying low-
power television ("LPTV") licensees. Class A licensees will, in many respects, have "primary"
status as television broadcasters, thereby gaining a measure of protection from full-service
The Report and Order implements the Community Broadcasters Protection Act of 1999 ("CBPA"), which was signed into law November 29, 1999. The CBPA requires the Commission, within 120 days after the date of enactment, to prescribe regulations establishing a Class A television service available to licensees of qualifying low-power television ("LPTV") stations. The CBPA directs that Class A licensees be subject to the same license terms and renewal standards as full-power television licensees, and that Class A licensees be accorded primary status as television broadcasters as long as they continue to meet the requirements set forth in the statute for qualifying low-power stations. In addition to other matters, the CBPA sets out certain certification and application procedures for low-power television licensees seeking to obtain Class A status, prescribes the criteria low-power stations must meet to be eligible for a Class A license, and outlines the interference protection Class A applicants must provide to full power analog (or "NTSC") and digital television stations ("DTV"), LPTV, and TV translator stations.
To be eligible for Class A status, the CBPA and the Commission's implementing rules require that, during the 90 days preceding the date of enactment of the statute: (1) the LPTV station broadcast a minimum of 18 hours per day; (2) the station broadcast an average of at least 3 hours per week of programming produced within the market area served by the station; and (3) the station was in compliance with the Commission's requirements for LPTV stations; and that from the date of its application for Class A license, the station is in compliance with the Commission's operating rules for full-power television stations. Alternatively, the CBPA provides that a station may qualify for Class A status if "the Commission determines that the public interest, convenience, and necessity would be served by treating the station as a qualifying low-power television station for purposes of this section, or for other reasons determined by the Commission." The rules adopted provide for limited circumstances pursuant to which a station that does not meet the eligibility criteria prescribed by the statute could nonetheless be considered qualified for Class A status.
As directed by the CBPA, on December 13, 1999 the Mass Media Bureau issued a Public Notice informing the public of the statute and the eligibility requirements. The Commission also mailed to every LPTV licensee a "Statement of Eligibility for Class A Low Power Television Station Status." Licensees intending to seek Class A designation were required to complete the statement and return it to the Commission by January 28, 2000. More than 1700 applicants filed timely requests for certification for Class A eligibility.
The rules adopted by the Commission preserve the service areas of LPTV licensees from the date the Commission received a certification of eligibility for Class A status, as long as the certification is ultimately approved by the Commission. Class A stations are required to protect existing analog stations and the facilities proposed in full power analog applications that have completed all processing short of grant and for which the identity of the successful applicant is known. Class A stations must also protect the ability of DTV stations to replicate the service area of their analog stations, and to maximize their digital service area within the constraints established by the statute. Class A applicants and licensees must comply with all Part 73 regulations except those that cannot apply for technical or other reasons.
The LPTV stations eligible for Class A status under the new rules provide locally-originated programming, often to rural and certain urban communities that have either no or little access to such programming. LPTV stations are owned by a wide variety of licensees, including minorities and women, and often provide "niche" programming to residents of specific ethnic, racial, and interest communities. The action the Commission has taken will facilitate the acquisition of capital needed by these stations to allow them to continue to provide free, over- the-air programming, including locally-originated programming, to their communities. In addition, by improving the commercial viability of LPTV stations that provide valuable programming, this action will also further the Commission's fundamental goals of ensuring diversity and localism in television broadcasting. Action by the Commission on March 28, 2000, by Report and Order (FCC No. 00-115). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell and Tristani. The Commission anticipates releasing the text of the Report and Order within the next several days.
MM Docket No. 00-10
Mass Media Bureau Contacts: Kim Matthews - Service Rules (202) 418-2210 Keith Larson - Engineering (202) 418-2600