Apr 9, 2012

Channel sharing after spectrum auctions on agenda for April FCC meeting

The FCC's tentative agenda for its April 27 public meeting includes several items of interest to public broadcasters.

The commission will consider a report and order establishing a regulatory framework for channel sharing among TV licensees. Stations face the option of relinquishing some spectrum and sharing a 6 MHz channel  — possibly pairing commercial and noncom broadcasters — as part of the upcoming spectrum auction and subsequent repacking (Current, Feb. 28).

Also on the agenda is consideration of a notice of proposed rulemaking inviting public comment on allowing non-CPB grantees "to conduct on-air fundraising activities that interrupt regular programming for the benefit of third-party non-profit organizations." In its "Information Needs of Communities" report in June 2011, the FCC noted that religious broadcasters have argued that they should be able to "devote a small amount of air time, up to one percent, to help fundraise for charities and other nonprofits." Currently, noncoms, including pubcasters, must receive a special waiver to do so. In the June report, the FCC recommended that non-CPB recipients be allowed to spend that airtime fundraising. "The broadcasters should disclose how this time is used — including how much is helping charities in the local community — so the FCC can make an assessment about the efficacy of this experiment," the June report said.

And commissioners will consider a report and order to increase transparency and public access to information by moving the public files of TV stations from paper to the Internet, an issue that prompted APTS and PBS to file a comment with the FCC last December.

The commission will meet at 10:30 a.m. Eastern, with live streaming of the meeting on

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