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TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1996

TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1996 1

AN ACT To promote competition and reduce regulation in order to secure lower

prices and higher quality services for American telecommunications consumers and encourage the rapid deployment of new telecommunications technologies.

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SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

(a) * * *

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(b) (47 U.S.C. 153 nt] COMMON TERMINOLOGY. Except as otherwise provided in this Act, the terms used in this Act have the meanings provided in section 3 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 153), as amended by this section.

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SEC. 202. BROADCAST OWNERSHIP.

(a) NATIONAL RADIO STATION OWNERSHIP RULE CHANGES REQUIRED.-The Commission shall modify section 73.3555 of its regulations (47 C.F.R. 73.3555) by eliminating any provisions limiting the number of AM or FM broadcast stations which may be owned or controlled by one entity nationally. (b) LOCAL RADIO DIVERSITY.

(1) APPLICABLE CAPS.—The Commission shall revise section 73.3555(a) of its regulations (47 C.F.R. 73.3555) to provide that

(A) in a radio market with 45 or more commercial radio stations, a party may own, operate, or control up to 8 commercial radio stations, not more than 5 of which are in the same service (AM or FM);

(B) in a radio market with between 30 and 44 (inclusive) commercial radio stations, a party may own, operate, or control up to 7 commercial radio stations, not more than 4 of which are in the same service (AM or FM);

(C) in a radio market with between 15 and 29 (inclusive) commercial radio stations, a party may own, operate, or control up to 6 commercial radio stations, not more than 4 of which are in the same service (AM or FM); and

1 In general, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 contained amendments to the Communications Act of 1934 that are incorporated elsewhere in this compilation. This portion of this compilation contains the provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that did not amend other statutes.

(D) in a radio market with 14 or fewer commercial radio stations, a party may own, operate, or control up to 5 commercial radio stations, not more than 3 of which are in the same service (AM or FM), except that a party may not own, operate, or control more than 50 percent of the stations in such market.

(2) EXCEPTION.-Notwithstanding any limitation authorized by this subsection, the Commission may permit a person or entity to own, operate, or control, or have a cognizable interest in, radio broadcast stations if the Commission determines that such ownership, operation, control, or interest will result in an increase in the number of radio broadcast stations in operation. (C) TELEVISION OWNERSHIP LIMITATIONS.—

(1) NATIONAL OWNERSHIP LIMITATIONS.—The Commission shall modify its rules for multiple ownership set forth in section 73.3555 of its regulations (47 C.F.R. 73.3555)

(A) by eliminating the restrictions on the number of television stations that a person or entity may directly or indirectly own, operate, or control, or have a cognizable interest in, nationwide; and

(B) by increasing the national audience reach limitation for television stations to 39 percent.

(2) LOCAL OWNERSHIP LIMITATIONS.—The Commission shall conduct a rulemaking proceeding to determine whether to retain, modify, or eliminate its limitations on the number of television stations that a person or entity may own, operate, or control, or have a cognizable interest in, within the same television market.

(3) DIVESTITURE.-A person or entity that exceeds the 39 percent national audience reach limitation for television stations in paragraph (1)(B) through grant, transfer, or assignment of an additional license for a commercial television broadcast station shall have not more than 2 years after exceeding such limitation to come into compliance with such limitation. This divestiture requirement shall not apply to persons or entities that exceed the 39 percent national audience reach limitation through population growth.

(4) FORBEARANCE. Section 10 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 160) shall not apply to any person or entity that exceeds the 39 percent national audience reach limitation for television stations in paragraph (1)(B);

(d) RELAXATION OF ONE-TO-A-MARKET.—With respect to its enforcement of its one-to-a-market ownership rules under section 73.3555 of its regulations, the Commission shall extend its waiver policy to any of the top 50 markets, consistent with the public interest, convenience, and necessity.

(e) DUAL NETWORK CHANGES.—The Commission shall revise section 73.658(g) of its regulations (47 C.F.R. 658(g)) to permit a television broadcast station to affiliate with a person or entity that maintains 2 or more networks of television broadcast stations unless such dual or multiple networks are composed of

(1) two or more persons or entities that, on the date of enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, are "net

works" as defined in section 73.3613(a)1) of the Commission's regulations (47 C.F.R. 73.3613(a)(1)); or

(2) any network described in paragraph (1) and an English-language program distribution service that, on such date, provides 4 or more hours of programming per week on a national basis pursuant to network affiliation arrangements with local television broadcast stations in markets reaching more than 75 percent of television homes (as measured by a national ratings service). (f) CABLE CROSS OWNERSHIP.

(1) ELIMINATION OF RESTRICTIONS.—The Commission shall revise section 76.501 of its regulations (47 C.F.R. 76.501) to permit a person or entity to own or control a network of broadcast stations and a cable system.

(2) SAFEGUARDS AGAINST DISCRIMINATION.—The Commission shall revise such regulations if necessary to ensure carriage, channel positioning, and nondiscriminatory treatment of nonaffiliated broadcast stations by a cable system described in paragraph (1).

(g) LOCAL MARKETING AGREEMENTS.-Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the origination, continuation, or renewal of any television local marketing agreement that is in compliance with the regulations of the Commission.

(h) FURTHER COMMISSION REVIEW.-The Commission shall review its rules adopted pursuant to this section and all of its ownership rules quadrennially as part of its regulatory reform review under section 11 of the Communications Act of 1934 and shall determine whether any of such rules are necessary in the public interest as the result of competition. The Commission shall repeal or modify any regulation it determines to be no longer in the public interest. This subsection does not apply to any rules relating to the 39 percent national audience reach limitation in subsection (c)(1)(B).

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SEC. 207. (47 U.S.C. 303 nt) RESTRICTIONS ON OVER-THE-AIR RECEP.

TION DEVICES. Within 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Commission shall, pursuant to section 303 of the Communications Act of 1934, promulgate regulations to prohibit restrictions that impair a viewer's ability to receive video programming services through devices designed for over-the-air reception of television broadcast signals, multichannel multipoint distribution service, or direct broadcast satellite services.

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SEC. 302. CABLE SERVICE PROVIDED BY TELEPHONE COMPANIES.

(a) * * *

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