U.S. Copyright Office
Library of Congress  

Cable Statutory License: Specialty Station List

arrow_nav Submission Form
(closes December 8, 2011)
arrow_nav Notice of Objections and Specialty Station Filings
(November 8, 2011)
arrow_nav MPAA Objection
arrow_nav Notice of Specialty Station Filings
(April 22, 2011)
arrow_nav Request for information
(January 28, 2011)




Section 111 of the Copyright Act (“Act”) provides cable operators with a statutory license to retransmit a performance or display of a work embodied in a primary transmission made by a television station licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”). Under the cable statutory license, which is in part based on the FCC’s former distant signal carriage rules, a cable operator may retransmit the signal of a distant television station identified as a “specialty station” at the base rate rather than at the higher 3.75% rate that is incurred for the carriage of a non-permitted signal. Specialty station status is determined by reference to the regulations of the FCC which defined a specialty station as ‘‘a commercial television broadcast station that generally carries foreign-language, religious, and/or automated programming in one-third of the hours of an average broadcast week and one-third of the weekly prime-time hours.’’ 47 CFR 76.5(kk) (1981). The FCC no longer determines whether a station qualifies as a specialty station since it repealed its distant signal carriage rules in 1981. Nevertheless, the Office has maintained active specialty station lists because they are relevant to the calculation of royalties under Section 111.

On January 28, 2011, the Office announced that it will be establishing a new specialty station list by publishing a Notice in the Federal Register and asking the owner, or a valid agent of the owner, to file a sworn affidavit stating that the station’s programming satisfies the FCC’s former requirements for specialty station status. 76 FR 5213 (January 28, 2011). The Office received affidavits from 63 broadcast stations for which the owner or licensee of the television station had filed the requested affidavit. The Office then published an initial specialty station list in the Federal Register on April 22, 2011. 76 FR 22733 (April 22, 2011).

In response to the publication of this initial list of specialty stations for this purpose in April, the Office received objections filed by the Motion Picture Association of America to the identification of certain stations as being entitled to specialty station status. Consequently, before compiling the final list, the Office is providing an opportunity for response to the filed objections. The Office is also publishing for comment a new list of television stations reported in filed affidavits received after publication of the initial list in which the owner or licensee of the television station attests that the station qualifies as a specialty station under the FCC’s former rules.