Don’t forget that by December 3, 2012, all commercial and noncommercial full power television stations, as well as all digital low power, digital Class A, and digital television translator stations that are licensed, or are operating pursuant to Special Temporary Authority, must electronically file an FCC Form 317 with the FCC. The purpose of the Form 317 is to disclose whether a station provided ancillary or supplementary services on its digital spectrum at any time during the twelve month period ending on September 30, 2012.
Ancillary or supplementary services are all services provided on a portion of a station’s digital spectrum that is not necessary to provide the required single, free, over-the-air signal to viewers. Thus, any video broadcast signal provided at no charge to viewers is exempt from the fee. According to the FCC, services that are considered ancillary or supplementary include, but are not limited to, “computer software distribution, data transmissions, teletext, interactive materials, aural messages, paging services, audio signals, subscription video, and the like.”
If a station did provide such ancillary/supplementary services in the past year, then the FCC expects that station to include in its Form 317 the services provided, the amount of gross revenues derived from those services, and a remittance Form 159 submitting payment to the government of 5% of the gross revenues generated by those services.
What if your station has never used any of its digital capacity for ancillary or supplementary services? It doesn’t matter, as all digital TV stations are required to file a Form 317 annually, whether or not they have transmitted any non-broadcast services. Stations unfamiliar with this requirement will want to take a look at our Client Advisory for more information, and make sure they don’t miss the coming deadline. Missing the deadline can result in a totally different “fee” being imposed on a station by the FCC – a fine for failure to timely file required forms.