Groups File To Block Return Of UHF Discount

In a joint filing to the FCC,Free Press, United Church of Christ, Prometheus Radio Project, Media Mobilizing Project, Media Alliance, National Hispanic Media Coalition and Common Cause say the commission's plan "lacks any legal or policy support and effectively contravenes the statutory limit on national television ownership."

Several advocacy groups opposed to media consolidation have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington to “reverse or vacate” the FCC decision to restore the UHF discount to its national ownership rule — a move that, in effect, raises the limit on household coverage of TV station groups from 39% to 78%.

“The FCC lacks statutory authority to make such a modification,” the parties said in their joint petition. “[N]otably, one of the two members voting to restore the UHF Discount [Michael O’Rielly] has forcefully stated that he believes that the commission lacks authority…. As such the decision was arbitrary and capricious.”

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What’s more, they said, the FCC action “lacks any legal or policy support and effectively contravenes the statutory limit on national television ownership.”

The petitioners: Free Press, United Church of Christ, Prometheus Radio Project, Media Mobilizing Project, Media Alliance, National Hispanic Media Coalition and Common Cause.

They were represented by Andrews Schwartzman of the Institute for Public Representation, Georgetown University Law Center.

Reversal of the FCC action would upset the plans of Sinclair Broadcast Group, which last week announced an agreement to acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion and assumption of debt. That deal would increase Sinclair’s household reach to 72%.

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Comments (5)

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Brian Bussey says:

May 15, 2017 at 9:23 am

the UHF discount is not remotely factual in the digital broadcast world. UHF stations have a total advantage in digital broadcasting. How this trial should take one day. The fact is that if UHF had a disadvantage why did we just wrap up a spectrum auction for UHF bandwidth ? If VHF bandwidth was so twice as strong, why didn’t the cable companies request any of that spectrum?

Snead Hearn says:

May 15, 2017 at 9:39 am

Well said….

Mike Barras says:

May 15, 2017 at 11:18 am

Aren’t most stations now on UHF despite their virtual channel designation? That is the situation in the SF Bay Area.

Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

May 15, 2017 at 12:08 pm

But it helps a right-leaning conservative corporation…that’s all you need to know.

Keith ONeal says:

May 15, 2017 at 4:01 pm

UHF discounts were needed back in the Analog days. With Digital, if any discounts are needed it would be VHF discounts.


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