Public TV seeks exemption from FCC translator requirement

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Public TV organizations are petitioning the FCC to waive a new rule requiring stations to contact cable and satellite operators if they want the services to continue carrying their translators.

Under the rule, public TV stations would need to email cable and satellite companies — also known as multichannel video programming distributors, or MPVDs —by Oct. 1 to maintain carriage of the system’s 600 translators. The requirement is not codified in FCC rules, according to the petition filed Tuesday by PBS and America’s Public Television Stations, but was put forth in a proceeding and public notice this year.

The requirement for noncommercial educational broadcasters is “regulatory make-work” that “does not serve any necessary or legitimate purpose,” APTS and PBS argued.

“… It would be a tremendous, expensive, and time-consuming burden on Public Television’s nearly 600 NCE translators (many serving small, rural communities) to research, identify, and notify the MVPDs currently carrying the NCE translators (including the many very small cable operators in rural communities),” APTS and PBS added. “There is, at this point, no known source for that information for NCE translators — it would have to compiled from scratch, for each NCE translator station and for each MVPD.”

The organizations said they believe that translator stations won’t be able to comply by the Oct. 1 deadline and that the obligation could jeopardize “the receipt of Public Television’s programming.”

“Given the impact of the COVID pandemic on our country and the strain on our nation’s educational systems, APTS and PBS believe that any disruption of Public Television content and services to the public would be contrary to the public interest,” they said.

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