Summary: H.R.3380 — 102nd Congress (1991-1992)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for H.R.3380. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Introduced in House (09/24/1991)

Fair Competition in Broadcasting Act of 1991 - Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit, one year after the enactment of the Local Broadcast Service Protection Act of 1991, any cable system (system) or other multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) from retransmitting the signal of a commercial broadcasting station, or any part thereof, without the express authority of the originating station, with exceptions.

Makes such prohibition inapplicable to the retransmission of the signal of a broadcasting station to a home satellite antenna by a cable operator (operator) or other MVPD of the signal of a superstation if the originating station was a superstation on May 1, 1991, and the system or other MVPD does not obtain the signal directly from the originating station.

Directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish regulations to govern the exercise by television (TV) stations of the right to grant retransmission authority and the right to signal carriage under such Act. Specifies that: (1) such regulations shall require that TV stations make an election between such rights; (2) if an originating TV station elects to exercise its right to grant retransmission authority, such Act shall not require the carriage of the signal of such station by such system; (3) such election shall not interfere with or supersede the rights of any station electing to assert the right of signal carriage; and (4) such provisions shall not be construed as affecting program licensing agreements between broadcasters and program suppliers.

Requires each system operator with: (1) 12 or fewer usable activated channels to carry the signals of at least three local commercial TV stations, with exceptions where there are 300 or fewer subscribers; and (2) more than 12 such channels to carry the signals of local commercial TV stations up to one third of the aggregate number of usable activated channels of such system. Grants the operator discretion in selecting which signals to carry on its system whenever the number of local commercial TV stations exceeds the maximum number of signals a system is required to carry under such provision, with exceptions.

Requires an operator to carry: (1) in its entirety, on the system of that operator, the primary video and accompanying audio transmission of each of the local commercial TV stations carried on the system and, to the extent technically feasible, program-related material carried in the vertical blanking interval or on subcarriers; and (2) the entirety of the program schedule of any TV station carried on the system unless carriage of specific programming is prohibited, and other programming authorized to be substituted, under Federal regulations.

Requires that: (1) the signals of local commercial TV stations that an operator carriers be carried without material degradation; (2) the FCC adopt carriage standards to ensure that, to the extent technically feasible, the quality of signal processing and carriage provided by a system for the carriage of local commercial TV stations will be no less than that provided for carriage of any other type of signal; and (3) the FCC, at such time as it prescribes modifications of the standards for TV broadcast signals, initiate a proceeding to establish any changes in the signal carriage requirements of cable TV systems necessary to ensure cable carriage of such broadcast signals of local commercial TV stations which have been changed to conform with such modified standards.

Specifies that an operator shall not be required to carry the signal of any local commercial TV station that substantially duplicates the signal of another local commercial TV station which is carried on its system, or to carry the signals of more than one local commercial TV station affiliated with a particular broadcast network.

Sets forth provisions with respect to: (1) channel positioning; (2) signal availability; (3) identification of signals carried; and (4) notification of a local commercial TV station prior to deleting carriage or repositioning the station.

Bars an operator from accepting or requesting compensation for carriage of local commercial TV stations or for channel positioning rights, with exceptions.

Establishes procedures for complaints by broadcast stations against operators. Directs the FCC to: (1) afford the operator an opportunity to respond to the allegations; and (2) make a determination and take appropriate action with respect to the complaint.

States that no operator shall be required to provide or make available, or provide information to subscribers about, any input selector switch or comparable device.

Directs the FCC to issue regulations implementing the requirements established by this Act.

Specifies that nothing in this Act shall require (or prohibit) an operator to (or from) carrying on any tier the signal of any commercial TV station or video programming service that is predominantly utilized for the transmission of sales presentations or program length commercials.

Requires an operator with: (1) 12 or fewer usable activated channels to carry the signal of at least one qualified local noncommercial educational TV station; and (2) 13 to 36 such channels to carry the signal of at least one such station (but does not require carriage of the signals of more than three such stations). Sets forth additional requirements where a system operates beyond the presence of any qualified local noncommercial educational TV station.

Requires all operators to continue to provide carriage to all qualified local noncommercial educational TV stations whose signals were carried on their systems as of March 29, 1990, subject to waiver under specified circumstances.

Specifies that: (1) an operator required to add the signals of qualified local noncommercial educational TV stations to a system may do so by placing such additional stations on public, educational, or governmental channels not in use for their designated purposes; (2) an operator of a system with a capacity of more than 36 usable activated channels which is required to carry the signals of three qualified local noncommercial educational TV stations shall not be required to carry the signals of additional such stations the programming of which substantially duplicates the programming broadcast by another qualified local noncommercial educational TV station requesting carriage; and (3) a qualified local noncommercial educational TV station whose signal is carried by an operator shall not assert any network nonduplication rights it may have under specified Federal regulations to require the deletion of programs aired on other qualified local noncommercial educational TV stations whose signals are carried by such operator.

Requires an operator to: (1) retransmit in its entirety the primary video and accompanying audio transmission of each qualified local noncommercial educational TV station whose signal is carried on the system and, to the extent technically feasible, program-related material carried in the vertical blanking interval, or on subcarriers, that may be necessary for receipt of programming by handicapped persons or for educational or language purposes; and (2) provide each qualified local noncommercial educational TV station whose signal is carried with bank-width and technical capacity equivalent to that provided to commercial TV broadcast stations carried on the system, and carry the signal of each qualified local noncommercial educational TV station without material degradation.

Sets forth additional provisions with respect to: (1) notification of changes in carriage; (2) signal quality; (3) channel positioning; (4) availability of signals; (5) payment for carriage (which is generally prohibited); (6) complaint procedures and remedies; and (7) signal identification.