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At its October open meeting, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking looking to abolish its rule that bars a broadcast licensee from prohibiting a competitor from using a “unique” transmitter site that it controls. The rule was adopted decades ago and never used. It provides that a license renewal would not be granted to a broadcast licensee who controls a transmitter site that is the only site that could be used by a potential competitor and prohibits that competitor from using the unique site. Given that this rule has never been used, and that there are many more communications towers now than at any time in the past (as well as more broadcast stations), the FCC suggested that the rule was no longer needed to insure that new broadcast services could be provided to the public.
That NPRM has now been published in the Federal Register. Comments are due December 6, with reply comments due on December 23. Given the limited utility of this rule, we would expect few broadcasters will be rushing in to provide their comments on this FCC proposal. But, if this potentially affects your business plans going forward, you now know when you can file your comments in this proceeding.