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DEADLINE: October 1 for Satellite Receipt of Station Carriage Election Letters

All television stations are required to request satellite carriage prior to each three year election cycle. The next satellite carriage election cycle runs from January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2014. 

In order for your station to be carried via satellite during that three year period, you must send a request for carriage via certified mail and the satellite company must receive your request NO LATER THAN October 1, 2011. Please be aware that public television stations are entitled only to mandatory carriage (and not retransmission consent).

All stations must request carriage from DISH. If your station signed on to the APTS/PBS  agreement with DIRECTV, you do not need to send a letter to DIRECTV. If you are not sure if you are a participant in that agreement, please contact Lonna Thompson, or send a carriage request letter to DIRECTV as well.

There are very specific requirements that must be met in a station’s letter. A copy of a sample election letter can be found here. The addresses are as follows: DIRECTV, Inc. 2230 East Imperial Highway, Mail Stop: N344, El Segundo, CA 90245, Attn: Local-into-Local Elections; DISH Satellite, LLC, 9601 S. Meridian Boulevard, Englewood, CO 80112, Attn: Melisa Ordonez.

To assist stations in making their elections, the relevant sections of the APTS Public Television Legal Survival Guide, Fourth Edition are excerpted below:

A station’s request for carriage is required to be made in writing and sent to the satellite carrier’s principal place of business via certified mail, return receipt requested.[i] It must include the following:

  • The station’s call sign.
  • The name of the appropriate contact person at the station.
  • The station’s address for receiving official correspondence.
  • The station’s community of license.
  • The station’s DMA assignment.
  • An indication that the station is requesting mandatory must carry.[ii]

Stations that neglect to make this election by the required date, or that do so in ways that do not strictly conform to these requirements, will jeopardize their carriage rights for the duration of time until the next election cycle three years later.

SUBSEQUENT STEPS: Within 30 days from receipt of the station’s request for carriage, the satellite company is required to notify those stations that would not be carried (along with reasons for the decision) and those stations that would be carried.[iii] If a station is denied carriage, it must send a protest letter to the satellite company stating its objections and the reasons it believes carriage is required.[iv] the satellite company is then required to respond within 30 days.[v] Thereafter, if the dispute is not resolved, a station is allowed to file a complaint with the FCC,[vi] as long as the date of filing is within 60 days of being denied carriage, either explicitly or implicitly.

For further information please contact Lonna Thompson at APTS or Thomas Rosen at PBS.

[i] 47 C.F.R. § 76.66(d)(1)(ii).
47 C.F.R. § 76.66(d)(1)(iii).The FCC has stated that for this purpose, a carrier’s principal place of business can be a carrier’s “letterhead address or other readily available principal address,” including the letterhead address and signatory on a satellite carrier’s notification of designated local receive facility or notification of intent to provide local-into-local service in a new market. DBS Reconsideration, ¶69 and n. 222.
[iii] 47 C.F.R. § 76.66(d)(1)(iv).
[iv] 47 U.S.C. § 338(f)(1), and 47 C.F.R. § 76.66(m)(1).
47 U.S.C. § 338(f)(1), and 47 C.F.R. § 76.66(m)(2).
47 C.F.R. § 76.66(m)(3).

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