FCC Extends Satellite Receiver Filing Deadline

Stations now have more time to register their C-Band satellite dishes.  The FCC has granted a request that it keep a filing window open until October 17. That’s 90 days beyond the previously-announced July 18 deadline. The International Bureau is also making it easier to make “batch” filings and clarifying other rules in a way that should save some broadcasters money.

The NAB and others have said the three-month window wasn’t enough time to get every radio stations to register their satellite receivers, in part because it’s something that was never asked of the industry before. The association said without every station meeting the filing deadline, it would leave the FCC without accurate information as it considers opening the C-band to mobile broadband services. International Bureau chief Tom Sullivan agreed, and said in a four-page notice that the additional 90 days should help address those concerns.

The FCC also announced that it will continue to waive the $1,500 coordination report fee during that extra three months, however the required $435 filing fee associated with Form 312s remains in place. The NAB had been lobbying the FCC to drop the filing fee, calling it an “undue and unfair burden” on stations. While it declined to do that, Sullivan clarified the agency’s policy explaining that a broadcaster with multiple receive-only antennas at a single location can file all of the antennas on a single application and only pay the $435 filing fee once. “This filing option provides financial relief from application fees for operators with multiple co-located antennas at a single site,” Sullivan said.

Even with broadcasters still submitting their earth station filings, the Commission is moving ahead with its plan to begin opening the C-band. FCC chair Ajit Pai announced this week he’ll bring to a vote at the Commission’s July meeting a proposal that would repurpose 500 MHz, allowing for what he described as “more intensive use” of the spectrum. Pai wrote in a blog post that wireless companies have come up with a number of “creative ideas for making better use” of the C-band spectrum. The item may be a precursor to a wider opening of the mid-band frequencies to wireless companies.

The potential downside for broadcasters in the extended deadline is that it means the temporary freeze preventing the filing for new earth stations or modifications of existing ones that’s been in place since April 19 will also continue until October.

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