FCC Creates “Regulatory Purgatory” for Broadcasters by Deciding to Apply Proposed UHF Rules Starting Today, Long Before They Are Finalized – Uncertainty Caused by Moving Regulatory Goalposts Could Harm Economic Growth
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) today issued the following statement in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to adopt a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding the Ultra High Frequency Band (UHF) discount:
“In an otherwise struggling economy, the communications and technology sector is a welcome beacon of innovation and growth that the U.S. government should embrace and celebrate. Removing regulatory barriers to investment and fostering an environment of stability is critical to continued job growth. Unfortunately, by what we saw today, the FCC apparently does not see it that way.
“Today’s action by the FCC reveals a startling failure to recognize the chilling effect of regulatory uncertainty and a disregard for the potential economic consequences of commission action. Rather than following the good process of adopting new rules and then applying them prospectively, as we suggested in a letter to the Acting Chairwoman, the FCC instead will apply as yet undefined rules to applications filed anytime after today.
“The practical reality of this decision is that the commission has created a regulatory purgatory for broadcasters between now, September 26, 2013, and whenever it gets around to adopting new rules – potentially sidelining countless jobs and billions of dollars in new investment. The FCC sadly failed in the ultimate effort to pursue policies that promote our economy and create jobs.”
The UHF discount reduces the percentage of the viewers of a UHF station that are counted when calculating an ownership group’s coverage. With television media ownership currently capped at 39 percent of the United States’ viewing population, comprised of stations broadcasting in both the UHF and Very High Frequency (VHF) bands, any change in the calculation will impact the business decisions of broadcast licensees.