FCC opens up for ATSC 3.0 license applications

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019 
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The Media Bureau of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announces that it will begin accepting Next Generation Television (ATSC 3.0) license applications in the commission’s licensing and management system on May 28, 2019.

  • GN Docket No. 16-42

1. By this Public Notice, the Media Bureau (Bureau) announces that it will accept applications for Next Generation Television (Next Gen TV or ATSC 3.0) licenses through the Commission’s Licensing and Management System (LMS) beginning on May 28, 2019. On November 16, 2017, the Commission adopted rules authorizing television broadcasters to use the Next Gen TV transmission standard on a voluntary, market-driven basis; however, before accepting applications for Next Gen TV licenses, the Bureau needed to revise the Form 2100 and modify LMS to accommodate the filing of such applications. This work has now been completed. The Bureau has revised FCC Form 2100, Schedule B (full service television stations), Schedule D (low power and television translator stations), and Schedule F (Class A television stations), so that broadcasters may now file applications for modification of licenses to authorize the transmission of Next Gen TV broadcast signals. All licensed full power, Class A, low power television (LPTV), and TV Translator stations, with the exception of licensed channel sharing stations, may begin filing the Next Gen TV license applications in LMS beginning on May 28, 2019.

2. In addition to reviewing this Public Notice, applicants are encouraged to review the Commission’s Next Gen TV Report and Order and the Commission’s ATSC 3.0 rules prior to filing a license application in order to familiarize themselves with requirements for airing an ATSC 1.0 simulcast signal and providing ATSC 3.0 service. Such requirements include, but are not limited to the Commission’s local simulcasting requirement, the requirement to enter into written local simulcasting agreements, ATSC 1.0 simulcast and ATSC 3.0 signal coverage requirements, and viewer and MVPD notice requirements.

3. ATSC 3.0 Streamlined Licensing Application Process. The Commission has adopted a one-step streamlined licensing approach that differs from the Commission’s traditional broadcast licensing process. Under this streamlined licensing approach, a broadcaster interested in voluntarily transmitting an ATSC 3.0 signal from its authorized facility or the facility of another broadcaster is required to file only a modification of license application with the Commission. A station must file and receive Commission approval, prior to: (1) moving its ATSC 1.0 simulcast signal to a temporary ATSC 1.0 simulcast host station, moving its ATSC 1.0 simulcast signal to a different host station, or discontinuing an ATSC 1.0 simulcast signal; (2) commencing the airing of a ATSC 3.0 signal on an ATSC 3.0 host station that has already converted to 3.0 service, moving its 3.0 signal to a different ATSC 3.0 host station, or discontinuing an ATSC 3.0 guest signal on an ATSC 3.0 host station; or (3) converting a station that has transitioned its facility to broadcast in ATSC 3.0 back to ATSC 1.0 service. A station may commence ATSC 1.0 simulcast or ATSC 3.0 operations only after grant of the necessary applications and consistent with any other restrictions placed on the station by the Commission. Stations are not permitted to commence ATSC 3.0 service (including ATSC 3.0 guest service) or ATSC 1.0 simulcast service pursuant to automatic program test authority.

4. When applying for a Next Gen TV license an applicant must choose from one of six application purposes. Based on a licensee’s selection, questions in the application will be tailored to the station’s specific purpose for filing. The six purposes a licensee must choose from are as follows:

  • Purpose 1: Convert an existing ATSC 1.0 facility to ATSC 3.0 service and identify an ATSC 1.0 simulcast host.
    • Who Files: A station commencing ATSC 3.0 service by converting their existing ATSC 1.0 facility to ATSC 3.0 and either identifying a host station for their ATSC 1.0 simulcast signal or seeking waiver of the ATSC 1.0 simulcast requirement.
  • Purpose 2: Identify or change an ATSC 1.0 simulcast host station.
    • Who Files: A station that has converted their facility to ATSC 3.0 and is seeking to either (1) change its ATSC 1.0 simulcast host or (2) identify a host for an ATSC 1.0 simulcast signal after having commenced ATSC 3.0 service without intially identifying an ATSC 1.0 simulcast host.
  • Purpose 3: Identify or change an ATSC 3.0 host station.
    • Who Files: A station seeking to either (1) commence ATSC 3.0 service by identifying a host station for their ATSC 3.0 guest signal or (2) change its existing ATSC 3.0 host station.
  • Purpose 4: Discontinue ATSC 3.0 guest service.
    • Who Files: A station seeking to discontinue ATSC 3.0 guest service currently being aired on an ATSC 3.0 host station and not commence ATSC 3.0 guest service on a new ATSC 3.0 host station at this time.
  • Purpose 5: Convert an ATSC 3.0 facility back to ATSC 1.0 service.
    • Who Files: A stations seeking to convert its licensed ATSC 3.0 station back to ATSC 1.0 service. A station converting back to ATSC 1.0 service need not file a separate application to discontinue their ATSC 1.0 simulcast signal (if applicable).
  • Purpose 6: Discontinue ATSC 1.0 simulcast service on a host station.
    • Who Files: Stations seeking to discontinue ATSC 1.0 simulcast service currently being aired on an ATSC 1.0 simulcast host station and not commence ATSC 1.0 simulcast service on a new ATSC 1.0 simulcast host station.

5. Depending on a station’s current licensed status, only certain purposes will be available for an applicant to select. For example, a station that is currently operating in ATSC 1.0 and does not have an ATSC 3.0 signal will only be permitted to select Purpose 1 (convert its existing facility to ATSC 3.0 and, as applicable, establish an ATSC 1.0 simulcast host) or Purpose 3 (identify an ATSC 3.0 host station).

6. An ATSC 1.0 simulcast host station does not need to file any application to act as an ATSC 1.0 simulcast host so long as the station’s facilities would not require any technical changes that would otherwise necessitate the filing of an application for construction permit. Likewise, a station that has already filed for, and been granted, a license to convert its facility to provide ATSC 3.0 service need not file any application to act as an ATSC 3.0 host station. However, if a host station must modify its facilities in a manner that would otherwise require the filing of an application for construction permit, the host station must first apply for and upon grant make all necessary changes to its facilities before a guest station may file an application for modification of license to air an ATSC 1.0 simulcast signal or ATSC 3.0 guest signal over the host’s facilities.

7. Temporary ATSC 3.0 Application Process for Channel Sharing Stations. The Bureau continues to modify LMS in order to accept for filing Next Gen TV license applications for channel sharing stations. We anticipate those modifications will be complete by the end of Third Quarter of 2019. We will release a subsequent Public Notice announcing when channel sharing stations may commence filing Next Gen TV license applications using Form 2100. In the meantime, the Bureau will use a temporary process by which channel sharing stations may file for authority either to convert their existing facility to ATSC 3.0 (and air an ATSC 1.0 simulcast signal) or air an ATSC 3.0 guest signal by filing for special temporary authority (STA) using a Legal STA. Included with any Legal STA must be all information that would otherwise be required to be included in an applicant’s Next Gen TV license application, as detailed in the Commission’s Next Gen TV Report and Order and the Commission’s ATSC 3.0 rules. Channel sharing stations that file using this interim process will need to file a license application once LMS has been modified to accept those applications for filing. For additional information, channel sharing stations that are interested in commencing ATSC 3.0 service under this interim process should contact the appropriate member of the Bureau staff listed in paragraph 9 below.

8. Stations with Next Gen TV Experimental Authorizations. While the Bureau was in the process of revising its forms and updating LMS to accept the filing of ATSC 3.0 license applications, the Bureau granted several applications for Experimental Special Temporary Authority to allow stations to commence ATSC 3.0 market trials and engage in product development. Effective May 28, 2019, the Bureau will no longer grant new experimental authorizations or extend existing authorizations, absent unique and compelling circumstances. Stations with experimental authorizations must file a Next Gen TV license application in LMS no later than the expiration date of their current experimental authorization or by that date permanently cease ATSC 3.0 service and as applicable resume ATSC 1.0 service. In order to avoid interruption of service, we advise stations with experimental authorizations to file their Next Gen TV license applications at least 30 days prior to the expiration date to allow sufficient time for staff to process the application.

9. For additional information related to technical matters, please contact Hossein Hashemzadeh of the Video Division, Media Bureau at (202) 418-1658 or by e-mail at [email protected] concerning Class A and LPTV stations, or Kevin Harding of the Video Division, Media Bureau at 202-418-7077 or by e-mail at [email protected] concerning full power stations. For all legal matters, please contact Evan Morris of the Media Bureau at 202-418-1656 or by e-mail at [email protected] Press inquiries should be directed to Janice Wise at (202) 418-8165 or by e-mail at [email protected] TTY: (202) 418-7172 or (888) 835-5322.

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