Skip Navigation

Federal Communications Commission

English Display Options

Commission Document

FCC Considers Elimination of the UHF Discount

Download Options

Released: September 26, 2013

Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

445 12th Street, S.W.


Washington, D. C. 20554

TTY: 1-888-835-5322

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).



September 26, 2013
Janice Wise (202) 418-8165



Washington, D.C

. The Federal Communications Commission today initiated a proceeding to consider
eliminating a provision that gives special treatment to UHF channels under its national television
ownership cap.
Called the UHF discount, the provision was adopted nearly 30 years ago when UHF signals were
regarded as technically inferior to VHF signals in analog television broadcasting. The broadcast
television ownership rule prohibits a single entity from owning stations that reach in the aggregate more
than 39% of total television households nationwide. The UHF discount allows stations broadcasting in
UHF to count toward that cap only 50% of the television households in their Designated Market Areas, as
opposed to the 100% requirement for VHF stations.
With the transition of full-power stations to digital broadcasting in 2009, the technical inferiority of UHF
appears to be a thing of the past. Therefore, the technical justification for the UHF discount no longer
seems to exist. With today's action, the Commission seeks to ensure that its rules reflect the current state
of television broadcasting technology. The proceeding also furthers the Commission's mandate to
evaluate its rules to make certain they continue to serve the public interest.
Specifically, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comment on the following tentative conclusions
and proposals:

The Commission has the authority to modify the national television ownership rule, including the
authority to revise or eliminate the UHF discount.

The UHF discount should be eliminated from the national television ownership rule because the
historical justification for the discount no longer exists.

If the UHF discount is eliminated, grandfathering should be accorded to existing broadcast station
ownership groups that exceed the 39% national audience cap by virtue of the elimination of the
discount and to proposed station combinations that exceed the 39% cap by virtue of the
elimination of the discount if an application is pending with the Commission or the Commission
has approved the transaction but it is not yet consummated when the NPRM is released.
Grandfathered ownership combinations subsequently sold or transferred would be required to
comply with the national ownership cap in existence at the time of the transfer.

Should the Commission consider adopting a VHF discount at this time?
Action by the Commission September 26, 2013, by Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 13-
123). Acting Chairwoman Clyburn and Commissioner Rosenworcel with Commissioner Pai

dissenting. Acting Chairwoman Clyburn, Commissioners Rosenworcel and Pai issuing statements. MB
Docket No. 13-236.
For further information, contact Brendan Holland (202- 418-2757; or Johanna
Thomas (202-418-7551; Press contact: Janice Wise (202-418-8165;
For news and information about the FCC, please visit:

Note: We are currently transitioning our documents into web compatible formats for easier reading. We have done our best to supply this content to you in a presentable form, but there may be some formatting issues while we improve the technology. The original version of the document is available as a PDF, Word Document, or as plain text.


You are leaving the FCC website

You are about to leave the FCC website and visit a third-party, non-governmental website that the FCC does not maintain or control. The FCC does not endorse any product or service, and is not responsible for, nor can it guarantee the validity or timeliness of the content on the page you are about to visit. Additionally, the privacy policies of this third-party page may differ from those of the FCC.