47 U.S. Code § 336 - Broadcast spectrum flexibility
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(a) Commission action
If the Commission determines to issue additional licenses for advanced television services, the Commission—
(1) should limit the initial eligibility for such licenses to persons that, as of the date of such issuance, are licensed to operate a television broadcast station or hold a permit to construct such a station (or both); and
(b) Contents of regulations
In prescribing the regulations required by subsection (a) of this section, the Commission shall—
(1) only permit such licensee or permittee to offer ancillary or supplementary services if the use of a designated frequency for such services is consistent with the technology or method designated by the Commission for the provision of advanced television services;
(2) limit the broadcasting of ancillary or supplementary services on designated frequencies so as to avoid derogation of any advanced television services, including high definition television broadcasts, that the Commission may require using such frequencies;
(3) apply to any other ancillary or supplementary service such of the Commission’s regulations as are applicable to the offering of analogous services by any other person, except that no ancillary or supplementary service shall have any rights to carriage under section 534 or 535 of this title or be deemed a multichannel video programming distributor for purposes of section 548 of this title;
(4) adopt such technical and other requirements as may be necessary or appropriate to assure the quality of the signal used to provide advanced television services, and may adopt regulations that stipulate the minimum number of hours per day that such signal must be transmitted; and
(c) Recovery of license
If the Commission grants a license for advanced television services to a person that, as of the date of such issuance, is licensed to operate a television broadcast station or holds a permit to construct such a station (or both), the Commission shall, as a condition of such license, require that either the additional license or the original license held by the licensee be surrendered to the Commission for reallocation or reassignment (or both) pursuant to Commission regulation.
(d) Public interest requirement
Nothing in this section shall be construed as relieving a television broadcasting station from its obligation to serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity. In the Commission’s review of any application for renewal of a broadcast license for a television station that provides ancillary or supplementary services, the television licensee shall establish that all of its program services on the existing or advanced television spectrum are in the public interest. Any violation of the Commission rules applicable to ancillary or supplementary services shall reflect upon the licensee’s qualifications for renewal of its license.
(1) Services to which fees apply
If the regulations prescribed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section permit a licensee to offer ancillary or supplementary services on a designated frequency—
(B) for which the licensee directly or indirectly receives compensation from a third party in return for transmitting material furnished by such third party (other than commercial advertisements used to support broadcasting for which a subscription fee is not required),
the Commission shall establish a program to assess and collect from the licensee for such designated frequency an annual fee or other schedule or method of payment that promotes the objectives described in subparagraphs (A) and (B) of paragraph (2).
(2) Collection of fees
The program required by paragraph (1) shall—
(A) be designed
(i) to recover for the public a portion of the value of the public spectrum resource made available for such commercial use, and
(B) recover for the public an amount that, to the extent feasible, equals but does not exceed (over the term of the license) the amount that would have been recovered had such services been licensed pursuant to the provisions of section 309 (j) of this title and the Commission’s regulations thereunder; and
(3) Treatment of revenues
(A) General rule
(B) Retention of revenues
Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), the salaries and expenses account of the Commission shall retain as an offsetting collection such sums as may be necessary from such proceeds for the costs of developing and implementing the program required by this section and regulating and supervising advanced television services. Such offsetting collections shall be available for obligation subject to the terms and conditions of the receiving appropriations account, and shall be deposited in such accounts on a quarterly basis.
(f) Preservation of low-power community television broadcasting
(1) Creation of class A licenses
(A) Rulemaking required
Within 120 days after November 29, 1999, the Commission shall prescribe regulations to establish a class A television license to be available to licensees of qualifying low-power television stations. Such regulations shall provide that—
(i) the license shall be subject to the same license terms and renewal standards as the licenses for full-power television stations except as provided in this subsection; and
(B) Notice to and certification by licensees
Within 30 days after November 29, 1999, the Commission shall send a notice to the licensees of all low-power television licenses that describes the requirements for class A designation. Within 60 days after November 29, 1999, licensees intending to seek class A designation shall submit to the Commission a certification of eligibility based on the qualification requirements of this subsection. Absent a material deficiency, the Commission shall grant certification of eligibility to apply for class A status.
(C) Application for and award of licenses
Consistent with the requirements set forth in paragraph (2)(A) of this subsection, a licensee may submit an application for class A designation under this paragraph within 30 days after final regulations are adopted under subparagraph (A) of this paragraph. Except as provided in paragraphs (6) and (7), the Commission shall, within 30 days after receipt of an application of a licensee of a qualifying low-power television station that is acceptable for filing, award such a class A television station license to such licensee.
(D) Resolution of technical problems
The Commission shall act to preserve the service areas of low-power television licensees pending the final resolution of a class A application. If, after granting certification of eligibility for a class A license, technical problems arise requiring an engineering solution to a full-power station’s allotted parameters or channel assignment in the digital television Table of Allotments, the Commission shall make such modifications as necessary—
(i) to ensure replication of the full-power digital television applicant’s service area, as provided for in sections 73.622 and 73.623 of the Commission’s regulations (47 CFR 73.622, 73.623); and
(ii) to permit maximization of a full-power digital television applicant’s service area consistent with such sections 73.622 and 73.623,
if such applicant has filed an application for maximization or a notice of its intent to seek such maximization by December 31, 1999, and filed a bona fide application for maximization by May 1, 2000. Any such applicant shall comply with all applicable Commission rules regarding the construction of digital television facilities.
(E) Change applications
If a station that is awarded a construction permit to maximize or significantly enhance its digital television service area, later files a change application to reduce its digital television service area, the protected contour of that station shall be reduced in accordance with such change modification.
(2) Qualifying low-power television stations
For purposes of this subsection, a station is a qualifying low-power television station if—
(i) during the 90 days preceding November 29, 1999—
(II) such station broadcast an average of at least 3 hours per week of programming that was produced within the market area served by such station, or the market area served by a group of commonly controlled low-power stations that carry common local programming produced within the market area served by such group; and
(3) Common ownership
No low-power television station authorized as of November 29, 1999, shall be disqualified for a class A license based on common ownership with any other medium of mass communication.
(4) Issuance of licenses for advanced television services to television translator stations and qualifying low-power television stations
The Commission is not required to issue any additional license for advanced television services to the licensee of a class A television station under this subsection, or to any licensee of any television translator station, but shall accept a license application for such services proposing facilities that will not cause interference to the service area of any other broadcast facility applied for, protected, permitted, or authorized on the date of filing of the advanced television application. Such new license or the original license of the applicant shall be forfeited after the end of the digital television service transition period, as determined by the Commission. A licensee of a low-power television station or television translator station may, at the option of licensee, elect to convert to the provision of advanced television services on its analog channel, but shall not be required to convert to digital operation until the end of such transition period.
(5) No preemption of section 337
Nothing in this subsection preempts or otherwise affects section 337 of this title.
(6) Interim qualification
(A) Stations operating within certain bandwidth
The Commission may not grant a class A license to a low-power television station for operation between 698 and 806 megahertz, but the Commission shall provide to low-power television stations assigned to and temporarily operating in that bandwidth the opportunity to meet the qualification requirements for a class A license. If such a qualified applicant for a class A license is assigned a channel within the core spectrum (as such term is defined in MM Docket No. 87–286, February 17, 1998), the Commission shall issue a class A license simultaneously with the assignment of such channel.
(B) Certain channels off-limits
The Commission may not grant under this subsection a class A license to a low-power television station operating on a channel within the core spectrum that includes any of the 175 additional channels referenced in paragraph 45 of its February 23, 1998, Memorandum Opinion and Order on Reconsideration of the Sixth Report and Order (MM Docket No. 87–268). Within 18 months after November 29, 1999, the Commission shall identify by channel, location, and applicable technical parameters those 175 channels.
(7) No interference requirement
The Commission may not grant a class A license, nor approve a modification of a class A license, unless the applicant or licensee shows that the class A station for which the license or modification is sought will not cause—
(A) interference within—
(i) the predicted Grade B contour (as of the date of the enactment of the Community Broadcasters Protection Act of 1999 [November 29, 1999], or November 1, 1999, whichever is later, or as proposed in a change application filed on or before such date) of any television station transmitting in analog format; or
(I) the digital television service areas provided in the DTV Table of Allotments; (II) the areas protected in the Commission’s digital television regulations (47 CFR 73.622(e) and (f)); (III) the digital television service areas of stations subsequently granted by the Commission prior to the filing of a class A application; and (IV) stations seeking to maximize power under the Commission’s rules, if such station has complied with the notification requirements in paragraph (1)(D);
(B) interference within the protected contour of any low-power television station or low-power television translator station that—
(i) was licensed prior to the date on which the application for a class A license, or for the modification of such a license, was filed;
(C) interference within the protected contour of 80 miles from the geographic center of the areas listed in section 22.625(b)(1) or 90.303 of the Commission’s regulations (47 CFR 22.625(b)(1) and 90.303) for frequencies in—
(i) the 470–512 megahertz band identified in section 22.621 or 90.303 of such regulations; or
Within 10 years after the date the Commission first issues additional licenses for advanced television services, the Commission shall conduct an evaluation of the advanced television services program. Such evaluation shall include—
(1) an assessment of the willingness of consumers to purchase the television receivers necessary to receive broadcasts of advanced television services;
(2) an assessment of alternative uses, including public safety use, of the frequencies used for such broadcasts; and
(h) Provision of digital data service by low-power television stations
(1) Within 60 days after receiving a request (made in such form and manner and containing such information as the Commission may require) under this subsection from a low-power television station to which this subsection applies, the Commission shall authorize the licensee or permittee of that station to provide digital data service subject to the requirements of this subsection as a pilot project to demonstrate the feasibility of using low-power television stations to provide high-speed wireless digital data service, including Internet access to unserved areas.
(2) The low-power television stations to which this subsection applies are as follows:
(K) A station and repeaters to be determined by the Federal Communications Commission for the sole purpose of providing service to communities in the Kenai Peninsula Borough and Matanuska Susitna Borough.
(3) Notwithstanding any requirement of section 553 of title 5, the Commission shall promulgate regulations establishing the procedures, consistent with the requirements of paragraphs (4) and (5), governing the pilot projects for the provision of digital data services by certain low power television licensees within 120 days after the date of enactment of LPTV Digital Data Services Act.  The regulations shall set forth—
(A) requirements as to the form, manner, and information required for submitting requests to the Commission to provide digital data service as a pilot project;
(B) procedures for testing interference to digital television receivers caused by any pilot project station or remote transmitter;
(C) procedures for terminating any pilot project station or remote transmitter or both that causes interference to any analog or digital full-power television stations, class A television station, television translators or any other users of the core television band;
(D) specifications for reports to be filed quarterly by each low power television licensee participating in a pilot project;
(E) procedures by which a low power television licensee participating in a pilot project shall notify television broadcast stations in the same market upon commencement of digital data services and for ongoing coordination with local broadcasters during the test period; and
(4) A low-power television station to which this subsection applies may not provide digital data service unless—
(A) the provision of that service, including any remote return-path transmission in the case of 2-way digital data service, does not cause any interference in violation of the Commission’s existing rules, regarding interference caused by low power television stations to full-service analog or digital television stations, class A television stations, or television translator stations; and
(A) The Commission may limit the provision of digital data service by a low-power television station to which this subsection applies if the Commission finds that—
(i) the provision of 2-way digital data service by that station causes any interference that cannot otherwise be remedied; or
(B) The Commission shall grant any such station, upon application (made in such form and manner and containing such information as the Commission may require) by the licensee or permittee of that station, authority to move the station to another location, to modify its facilities to operate on a different channel, or to use booster or auxiliary transmitting locations, if the grant of authority will not cause interference to the allowable or protected service areas of full service digital television stations, National Television Standards Committee assignments, or television translator stations, and provided, however, no such authority shall be granted unless it is consistent with existing Commission regulations relating to the movement, modification, and use of non-class A low power television transmission facilities in order—
(C) The Commission shall require quarterly reports from each station authorized to provide digital data services under this subsection that include—
(i) information on the station’s experience with interference complaints and the resolution thereof;
(6) The Commission shall assess and collect from any low-power television station authorized to provide digital data service under this subsection an annual fee or other schedule or method of payment comparable to any fee imposed under the authority of this chapter on providers of similar services. Amounts received by the Commission under this paragraph may be retained by the Commission as an offsetting collection to the extent necessary to cover the costs of developing and implementing the pilot program authorized by this subsection, and regulating and supervising the provision of digital data service by low-power television stations under this subsection. Amounts received by the Commission under this paragraph in excess of any amount retained under the preceding sentence shall be deposited in the Treasury in accordance with chapter 33 of title 31.
(7) In this subsection, the term “digital data service” includes—
(B) wireless Internet access, without regard to—
(i) whether such access is—
As used in this section:
(1) Advanced television services
The term “advanced television services” means television services provided using digital or other advanced technology as further defined in the opinion, report, and order of the Commission entitled “Advanced Television Systems and Their Impact Upon the Existing Television Broadcast Service”, MM Docket 87–268, adopted September 17, 1992, and successor proceedings.
(2) Designated frequencies
The term “designated frequency” means each of the frequencies designated by the Commission for licenses for advanced television services.
 See References in Text note below.
Source(June 19, 1934, ch. 652, title III, § 336, as added Pub. L. 104–104, title II, § 201,Feb. 8, 1996, 110 Stat. 107; Pub. L. 106–113, div. B, § 1000(a)(9) [title V, § 5008(c)], Nov. 29, 1999, 113 Stat. 1536, 1501A–595; Pub. L. 106–554, § 1(a)(4) [div. B, title I, § 143(a)], Dec. 21, 2000, 114 Stat. 2763, 2763A–235.)
References in Text
The date of enactment of LPTV Digital Data Services Act, referred to in subsec. (h)(3), probably means the date of enactment of Pub. L. 106–554, which enacted subsec. (h) of this section, and which was approved Dec. 21, 2000. There is no public law with that short title.
This chapter, referred to in subsec. (h)(6), was in the original “this Act”, meaning act June 19, 1934, ch. 652, 48 Stat. 1064, known as the Communications Act of 1934, which is classified principally to this chapter. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see section 609 of this title and Tables.
2000—Subsecs. (h), (i). Pub. L. 106–554added subsec. (h) and redesignated former subsec. (h) as (i).
1999—Subsecs. (f) to (h). Pub. L. 106–113added subsec. (f) and redesignated former subsecs. (f) and (g) as (g) and (h), respectively.
Transition to Digital Television
“(a) Pair Assignment Required.—In order to further promote the orderly transition to digital television, and to promote the equitable allocation and use of digital channels by television broadcast permittees and licensees, the Federal Communications Commission, at the request of an eligible licensee or permittee, shall, within 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act [June 12, 2002], allot, if necessary, and assign a paired digital television channel to that licensee or permittee, provided that—
“(1) such channel can be allotted and assigned without further modification of the tables of allotments as set forth in sections 73.606 and 73.622 of the Commission’s regulations (47 CFR 73.606, 73.622); and
“(2) such allotment and assignment is otherwise consistent with the Commission’s rules (47 CFR part 73).
“(b) Eligible Transition Licensee or Permittee.—For purposes of subsection (a), the term ‘eligible licensee or permittee’ means only a full power television broadcast licensee or permittee (or its successor in interest) that—
“(1) had an application pending for an analog television station construction permit as of October 24, 1991, which application was granted after April 3, 1997; and
“(2) as of the date of enactment of this Act [June 12, 2002], is the permittee or licensee of that station.
“(c) Requirements on Licensee or Permittee.—
“(1) Construction deadline.—Any licensee or permittee receiving a paired digital channel pursuant to this section—
“(A) shall be required to construct the digital television broadcast facility within 18 months of the date on which the Federal Communications Commission issues a construction permit therefore, and
“(B) shall be prohibited from obtaining or receiving an extension of time from the Commission beyond the construction deadline established by paragraph (1).
“(2) Prohibition of analog operation using digital pair.—Any licensee or permittee receiving a paired digital channel pursuant to this section shall be prohibited from giving up its current paired analog assignment and becoming a single-channel broadcaster and operating in analog on such paired digital channel.
“(d) Relief Restricted.—Any paired digital allotment and assignment made under this section shall not be available to any other applicant unless such applicant is an eligible licensee or permittee within the meaning of subsection (b).”
Reports on Provision of Digital Data Service by Low-Power Television Stations
Pub. L. 106–554, § 1(a)(4) [div. B, title I, § 143(b)], Dec. 21, 2000, 114 Stat. 2763, 2763A–238, provided that: “The Federal Communications Commission shall submit a report to the Congress on June 30, 2001, and June 30, 2002, evaluating the utility of using low-power television stations to provide high-speed digital data service. The reports shall be based on the pilot projects authorized by section 336(h) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 336 (h)).”
Congressional Findings Regarding Low-Power Broadcasters
Pub. L. 106–113, div. B, § 1000(a)(9) [title V, § 5008(b)], Nov. 29, 1999, 113 Stat. 1536, 1501A–594, provided that: “Congress finds the following:
“(1) Since the creation of low-power television licenses by the Federal Communications Commission, a small number of license holders have operated their stations in a manner beneficial to the public good providing broadcasting to their communities that would not otherwise be available.
“(2) These low-power broadcasters have operated their stations in a manner consistent with the programming objectives and hours of operation of full-power broadcasters providing worthwhile services to their respective communities while under severe license limitations compared to their full-power counterparts.
“(3) License limitations, particularly the temporary nature of the license, have blocked many low-power broadcasters from having access to capital, and have severely hampered their ability to continue to provide quality broadcasting, programming, or improvements.
“(4) The passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 [Pub. L. 104–104, see Short Title of 1996 Amendment note set out under section 609 of this title] has added to the uncertainty of the future status of these stations by the lack of specific provisions regarding the permanency of their licenses, or their treatment during the transition to high definition, digital television.
“(5) It is in the public interest to promote diversity in television programming such as that currently provided by low-power television stations to foreign-language communities.”
Executive Order No. 13038
Ex. Ord. No. 13038, Mar. 11, 1997, 62 F.R. 12065, as amended by Ex. Ord. No. 13062, § 5, Sept. 29, 1997, 62 F.R. 51756; Ex. Ord. No. 13065, Oct. 22, 1997, 62 F.R. 55329; Ex. Ord. No. 13081, Apr. 30, 1998, 63 F.R. 24385; Ex. Ord. No. 13102, Sept. 25, 1998, 63 F.R. 52125, which established the Advisory Committee on the Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters, was revoked by Ex. Ord. No. 13138, § 3(b), Sept. 30, 1999, 64 F.R. 53880, formerly set out as a note under section 14 of the Federal Advisory Committee Act in the Appendix to Title 5, Government Organization and Employees.