Noncommercial Television Stations' Use of DTV Channel Capacity
On October 11, 2001, the Commission ruled that Noncommercial Educational (NCE) Television licensees are required to use their entire digital television (DTV) bitstream capacity primarily for nonprofit, noncommercial, educational broadcast services. In this Report and Order, the FCC also ruled that the statutory prohibition against broadcasting of advertising on (NCE) television stations applies only to broadcast programming streams provided by NCE licensees, but does not apply to any ancillary or supplementary services presented on their excess DTV channels that do not constitute broadcasting. The Commission further ruled that NCE licensees must pay a fee of five percent of gross revenues generated by ancillary or supplementary services provided on their DTV service.
The Commission said it would not establish a bright line test to define the term “primarily” but will instead define it as a “substantial majority” of a NCE station’s entire digital capacity, measured on a weekly basis. It said the use of a weekly period would provide NCE stations with sufficient flexibility because stations typically schedule their programming on a weekly basis.
The District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Upheld the Commission's Decision on Office of Communication, Inc. of United Church of Christ v. F.C.C.