[Federal Register: August 4, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 149)]
[Page 41599-41600]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Copyright Office
[Docket No. RM 98-6]

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 television broadcast stations which, according 
to their owners, qualify as specialty stations for purposes of the 
former distant signal carriage rules of the Federal Communications 
Commission (FCC). Lists were published in 1990 and in 1995, at which 
time we stated that the specialty station list would be revised 
approximately every three years. Accordingly, the Copyright Office is 
again requesting all interested owners of television broadcast stations 
that qualify as specialty stations, including those that previously 
filed affidavits, to submit sworn affidavits to the Copyright Office 
stating that the programming of their stations meets certain 
requirements under the FCC regulations in effect on June 24, 1981.

DATES: Affidavits should be received on or before October 5, 1998.

ADDRESSES: If sent by mail, submit the sworn affidavit to: David O. 
Carson, General Counsel, Copyright GC/I&R, P.O. Box 70400, Southwest 
Station, Washington, DC 20024. If hand delivered, bring the document 
to: Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Copyright Office, James Madison 
Memorial Building, Room LM-403, First and Independence Avenue, SE., 
Washington, DC 20559-6000.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David O. Carson, General Counsel, or 
Tanya M. Sandros, Attorney Advisor, Copyright GC/I&R, P.O. Box 70400, 
Southwest Station, Washington, DC 20024. Telephone (202) 707-8380 or 
Telefax (202) 707-8366.


Why Would a Broadcast Station Seek Specialty Station Status?

    Specialty station status is significant in the administration of 
the cable compulsory license. 17 U.S.C. 111. The licensing system 
indirectly allows a cable operator to carry the signal of a television 
station classified as a specialty station at the base rate for 
``permitted'' signals. See 49 FR 14944 (April 16, 1984); 37 CFR 

[[Page 41600]]

What is a Specialty Station?

    The FCC regulations in effect on June 24, 1981, 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).

How is a Station Deemed To Be a Specialty Station? <SUP>1</SUP>

    Under a procedure adopted by the Copyright Office in 1989, see 54 
FR 38461 (September 18, 1989), an owner or licensee of a broadcast 
station files a sworn affidavit attesting that the station's 
programming comports with the 1981 FCC definition, and hence, qualifies 
as a specialty station. A list of the stations filing affidavits is 
then published in the Federal Register in order to allow any interested 
party to file an objection to an owner's claim of specialty station 
status for the listed station. Once the period to file objections 
closes, we publish a final list which includes references to the 
specific objections filed against a particular station owner's claim. 
In addition, affidavits that are submitted after the close of the 
filing period are accepted and kept on file at the Copyright Office.

    \1\ Originally, the FCC identified whether a station qualified 
as a specialty station, but after it deleted its distant signal 
carriage rules, it discontinued this practice. See Malrite T.V. of 
New York v. FCC, 652 F2d 1140 (2d Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 
1143 (1982).

    The staff of the Copyright Office, however, does not verify the 
specialty station status of any station listed in an affidavit.

How Does the Staff of the Copyright Office Use the List?

    Copyright Office licensing examiners refer to the final annotated 
list in examining a statement of account where a cable system operator 
claims that particular stations are specialty stations. If a cable 
system operator claims specialty station status for a station not on 
the final list, the examiner determines whether the owner of the 
station has filed an affidavit since publication of the list.

How Often Has the Copyright Office Published Specialty Station 

    The Copyright Office compiled and published its first specialty 
station list in 1990, together with an announcement of its 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). Its second 
list was published in 1995. 60 FR 34303 (June 30, 1995). With this 
notice, the Copyright Office is initiating the procedure for the 
compilation and publication of the third specialty station list.

Does This Notice Require Action on the Part of an Owner of a 
Television Broadcast Station?

    Yes, we are requesting 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 the publication of this notice 
in the Federal Register. There is no specific format for the affidavit; 
however, the affidavit must confirm that the station owner believes 
that the station qualifies as a specialty station under the 1981 FCC 
    Notwithstanding the above, any affidavit submitted to the Copyright 
Office within the 45-day period prior to publication of this notice 
need not be resubmitted to the Office. Any affidavit filed during this 
45-day period shall be considered timely filed for purposes of this 

What Happens After the Affidavits Are Filed With the Copyright 

    Once the period for filing the affidavits closes, we will compile 
and publish in the Federal Register a list of the stations identified 
in the affidavits. At the same time, we will solicit comment from any 
interested party as to whether or not particular stations on the list 
qualify as specialty stations. Thereafter, a final list of the 
specialty stations that includes references to any objections filed to 
a station's claim will be published in the Federal Register.
    In addition, affidavits that, for good cause shown, are submitted 
after the close of the filing period will be accepted and kept on file 
at the Copyright Office. Affidavits received in this manner will be 
accepted with the understanding that the owners of those stations will 
resubmit affidavits when the Office next formally updates the specialty 
station list. An interested party may file an objection to any late-
filed affidavit. Such objections shall be kept on file in the Copyright 
Office together with the corresponding affidavit.

    Dated: July 28, 1998.
Marybeth Peters,
Register of Copyrights.
[FR Doc. 98-20737 Filed 8-3-98; 8:45 am]