Beware: The UHF Discount Is Rising From The Dead

[Commentary] The ultra high frequency (UHF) Discount is the zombie of media policy, likely to rise from the dead this week at the Federal Communications Commission’s April 20, 2017 meeting. The likely restoration of the UHF Discount raises interesting legal issues, since no one disputes that there the policy rationale for its adoption has long since disappeared. Those arguments will play out at the Federal Communications Commission and, perhaps, in the courts, but this post is about the colorful history of the UHF Discount and why restoring it would likely lead to vastly increased concentration of control of TV stations in this country. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has made plain that he intends to relax or repeal almost all of the Commission’s restrictions on how many media properties a broadcaster can own or operate. However, the very first item on his list, which he has slated for expedited consideration, actually restores a very important, if seemingly arcane, provision that his predecessor had deleted - the so-called UHF discount.
[Andrew Jay Schwartzman is the Benton Senior Counselor at the Public Interest Communications Law Project at Georgetown University Law Center's Institute for Public Representation]


Beware: The UHF Discount Is Rising From The Dead