FCC Releases NPRM on Local TV Reports Used to Determine Station’s DMA

On July 14, 2022 the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) seeking comment on the proposal that the Commission should amend their rules to eliminate the references to the Annual Station Index and Household Estimates and instead specify the Local TV Report as the successor publication to be used to determine a station’s designated market area (“DMA”).

The NPRM proposes (i) that Local TV Report is an appropriate “successor publication” to both the Annual Station Index and the Household Estimates because it generally contains the same market assignment information as Annual Station Index, but is published monthly rather than annually; (ii) Because the Annual Station Index was published on an annual basis, the Commission tentatively concludes that it should specify which monthly Local TV Report should be used to determine a station’s market to ensure that all market participants are using the same data to reflect a specific point in time, and (iii) whether parties will benefit more from knowing DMA assignments well in advance of an election, or from ensuring that assignments are based on more timely information.  The NPRM also seeks comment on whether the rule should reference the October Local TV Report published two years prior to each triennial carriage election, or, alternatively, should the Commission consider a Local TV Report that is published closer in time to each triennial carriage election.  Additionally, the FCC invites commenters to suggest alternative “successor” publications, explaining the data similarities and differences between the Nielsen Local TV Report and the suggested publication, and, why the alternative is preferable.

During the July 14, 2022 Open Meeting, Commissioner Simington called for the Commission to open a notice of inquiry related to Nielsen’s inclusion in nearly two dozen Commission rules and the Commission’s reliance on Nielsen data.  Commissioner Simington expressed concern, stating “If there are opportunities to identify or generate new sources of broadcast data, we should take them.  If there are improvements to be made in our usage of broadcast data, we should make them.  And if our ties to Nielsen ultimately represent a structural impediment to the public interest, necessity, and convenience—we should break them.”

Comment are due 30 days after date of publication in the Federal Register and Reply Comments are due 60 days after date of publication in the Federal Register.

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