UHF Discounted, Ownership Cap Targeted

Chairman Pai and Commissioner Mike O'Rielly also voted over Clyburn's dissent to reinstate an obsolete rule called the UHF discount that, since the US transition to digital television in 2009, had functioned as nothing more than a loophole allowing broadcast conglomerates to exceed congressionally-mandated national television coverage limits.

And the Commission, as expected and with the same 2-1 margin, restored the TV "UHF Discount" used in determining compliance with national ownership caps "until the Commission can address its national television ownership rule more holistically, in a proceeding to be launched later this year".

As a result the FCC has recognised the "strong competition" in the BDS market and made a decision to remove some legacy regulation which may be holding back network investment.

"With today's vote on business data services, the FCC now stands for Forgetting Choice and Competition", said Senator Markey.

The National Hispanic Media Coalition said today's FCC decision will cause irreversible harm to diverse owners of small and mid-sized companies.

High-bandwidth applications, like video and teleconferencing, are driving demand for high-speed Ethernet packet-based networks.

The vote lifting the cap on Business Data Services (BDS) fees means that carriers like AT&T and Comcast will now be allowed to charge exorbitant rates on small businesses and community banks to connect to the internet.

The FCC's vote takes away price caps in a county when a competing BDS provider has a network within a half mile of 50 percent of the buildings served by existing providers, even if the building is now served by just one provider. Seventy-five percent of the census blocks in a county have a cable provider present, though opposition groups including the pro-net neutrality think tank Public Knowledge argue cable BDS isn't as powerful as services from traditional BDS providers.

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Yesterday's voting outcome will substantially ease the regulatory requirements in the business data services market.

BDS generated a number of back-and-forth debates during Tom Wheeler's tenure as FCC chairman. "If it's too low, competitive providers won't have an incentive to build their own facilities if they can cheaply use someone else's network".

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who dissented on the order, said that the order favors large service providers at the expense of small businesses.

"The FCC's BDS deregulation order is a 186 page all-out assault on America's small businesses, schools and local economies", she said.

The FCC argues that companies will be more inclined to extend their coverage if the price caps are not in effect.

Commissioners also passed an order aimed at streamlining broadband infrastructure deployment by overriding state and local regulations that hold up construction. "It isn't clear the FCC can restore an obsolete rule", he said.

As the nation's largest broadcast station group owner, ION's 60 full-power stations reach 98 million homes, including in 24 of the top 25 markets.

The FCC approved a change to the rules that will now allow noncommercial educational broadcasters to avoid having to submit personal information about all board members or directors, a burden added to NCEs in a JANUARY 2016 revision of the ownership reporting rules.