Today the FCC publicly released a Report and Order eliminating TV stations’ annual obligation to report whether they have provided feeable ancillary or supplementary services on their spectrum during the past year unless they have actually provided such services. The order was originally slated for discussion and a vote at next week’s FCC Open Meeting, but the Commission wound up adopting this widely supported change early, unanimously voting for it on circulation.
Previously, all digital television stations had to report by December 1 of each year whether they had provided feeable ancillary or supplementary services in the past year, what those services were, and then submit payment to the government of 5% of the gross revenue derived from such services. Ancillary and supplementary services are any services provided on a TV station’s digital spectrum that is not needed to provide the single free over-the-air program stream required by the FCC. The reason the word “feeable” is important is that broadcast video streams (i.e., multicast streams) do not trigger payment of the 5% fee. Examples previously provided by the FCC of feeable ancillary and supplementary services include computer software distribution and data transmissions.