[Federal Register: January 24, 1995 (Volume 60, Number 15)]
[Page 4639-4640]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Copyright Office
[Docket No. RM 94-4]

Cable Compulsory License: Specialty Station List

 AGENCY: Copyright Office, Library of Congress.

ACTION: Request for information.


SUMMARY: The Copyright Office is compiling a new specialty station list 
to identify commercial broadcast television stations that claim to 
qualify as specialty stations for purposes of the former distant signal 
carriage rules of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). We 
published a list in 1990, and at that time we stated that we would 
revise the specialty station list at approximately three year 
intervals. We are now in the process of updating the list, and request 
all interested television broadcast stations that qualify as specialty 
stations, including those that previously filed affidavits, to submit 
sworn affidavits to us stating that the programming of their stations 
satisfies certain former FCC requirements.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Affidavits should be received on or before March 27, 

ADDRESSES: BY MAIL: Copyright GC/I&R, P.O. Box 70400, Southwest 
Station, Washington, DC 20024. BY HAND: Office of the General Counsel, 
U.S. Copyright Office, James Madison Memorial Building, Room 407, First 
and Independence Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20540.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marilyn J. Kretsinger, Acting General 
Counsel, Copyright GC/I&R, P.O. Box 70400, Southwest Station, 
Washington, DC 20024. Telephone: (202) 707-8380, Telefax: (202) 707-

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Specialty station status is significant in 
the administration of the cable compulsory license, 17 USC 111. The 
licensing system indirectly allows a cable operator to carry the signal 
of a television station classified as a specialty station under the 
FCC's regulations in effect on June 24, 1981, at the relevant non-3.75% 
royalty rate for ``permitted'' signals. See 49 FR 14944, 14951 (April 
16, 1984). Although specialty station status is determined by reference 
to former FCC regulations found at 47 CFR 76.5(kk)(1981),<SUP>1 the FCC 
no longer determines whether a station qualifies as a specialty 
station. The last time the FCC identified specialty stations was in 
1976. In 1987 the Copyright Office was asked to update the list since 
the television industry had changed a great deal since the FCC compiled 
the 1976 list. Following the receipt of comments, we 
[[Page 4640]] adopted a procedure for compiling a new list of specialty 

    \1\The FCC 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 weekly 
prime-time hours.'' 47 CFR 76.5 (kk) (1981).

    The Copyright Office compiled and published its first specialty 
station list, together with an announcement of our intention to update 
the list approximately every three years in order to maintain as 
current a list as possible. 55 FR 40021 (October 1, 1990). A list of 
stations that filed too late to be included on the 1990 list was 
published in 1991. 56 FR 26165 (June 6, 1991) This list of stations was 
not per se a list of additional specialty stations, but did list the 
stations that represented themselves as meeting the standards required 
to be carried by cable systems at specialty station rates. Since then, 
we have accepted sworn affidavits from broadcast stations that claim 
specialty station status and have kept them on file. Licensing 
examiners have not questioned cable systems' claims that they carry any 
of these distant broadcast stations as specialty stations.
    Stations filing affidavits with us will be listed in a notice in 
the Federal Register in which we solicit public comments as to the 
eligibility of these stations as specialty stations. We will not verify 
the specialty station status of particular stations that file 
affidavits with us, but we will publish a final annotated list of 
specialty stations that includes references to any objections filed to 
stations' claims. The effective date of the final annotated list will 
coincide with the beginning of the accounting period that starts after 
the final list is published in the Federal Register. This will allow 
cable systems time to modify their channel line-ups should they 
discover that the status of a given station has changed.
    We will operate under this final list as we did under the first 
specialty station list. Copyright Office licensing examiners will refer 
to the final annotated list in examining cable systems' claims on their 
statements of account that particular stations are specialty stations. 
If a cable system claims specialty station status for a station not on 
the final annotated list, the examiner will check to determine whether 
the station has filed an affidavit since publication of the list. 
Affidavits received in this manner will be accepted with the 
understanding that those stations will resubmit affidavits when the 
Office next formally updates the specialty station list.
    When we first revised the specialty station list in 1990, we 
decided that a television broadcast station's ``current programming 
content'' (content guaranteed to have been carried over the previous 12 
months) should dictate whether the station qualifies as a specialty 
station. This requirement was intended to discourage broadcast stations 
from changing their formats at any given time simply to qualify as 
specialty stations. We have not, however, seen evidence that stations 
change formats to qualify as specialty stations for copyright purposes. 
Instead we believe that in certain instances a station may be hampered 
by the 12-month requirement. For example, a station that went on the 
air less than 12 months ago may not be able to gain carriage on a 
distant cable system as a specialty station even though its programming 
would meet former FCC specialty station standards.
    It is not our intention to create any hardships for broadcasters, 
cable systems, or television viewers. We are, therefore, eliminating 
the 12-month requirement. As of the date of this publication, any 
station that has carried specialty station programming since July 1, 
1994, and that continues to carry sufficient programming may qualify as 
a specialty station.
    We now request that the owner, or a valid agent of the owner, of 
any eligible television broadcast station submit an affidavit to the 
Copyright Office stating that he or she believes that the station 
qualifies as a specialty station under 47 CFR 76.5(kk) (1981), the 
FCC's former rule defining ``specialty station.'' The affidavit must be 
certified by the owner or an official representing the owner. 
Affidavits are due within 60 days of this publication. There is no 
particular format for the affidavit; however, the affidavit must 
confirm that the station owner believes that the station qualifies as a 
specialty station under the former FCC rules.
    Following the 60 day period for submission of affidavits, we will 
compile and publish in the Federal Register a list of the stations that 
filed affidavits. At the same time, we will solicit views from any 
interested party as to whether or not particular stations on the list 
qualify as specialty stations. We will then publish in the Federal 
Register a list of specialty stations that notes any public objections 
to a station's claim. Copyright Office Licensing Examiners will refer 
to the final annotated list when examining cable systems' claims on 
their Statements of Account that particular stations are specialty 

    Dated: January 17, 1995.
Marybeth Peters,
Register of Copyrights.
[FR Doc. 95-1683 Filed 1-23-95; 8:45 am]