First, this geographic concern should have been foreseen and factored in to the rules before passage.
Second, I think it’ll get approved. The high value target audience that PBS brings will drive incorporation of ATSC 3 tuners sooner rather than later. The government wants to see this adoption; this is a back door way of pushing it strongly without appearing to mandate the tuners.
Here's the heart of the matter. They really want "must carry" for their ATSC 3.0 signal.
Anticipating another regulatory challenge if the FCC decides to exempt pubcasters from the simulcasting rule, PMC made a case for cable must-carry of ATSC 3.0 signals. For early adopter stations that opt to drop their ATSC 1.0 service and “flash-cut” to Next Gen TV, PMC asks the commission to require cable TV and satellite operators to carry their ATSC 3.0 signals.
“In order to preserve already existing carriage of public television programming, it is vital that the Commission provide must-carry rights for the primary ATSC 3.0 service of any NCE station that flash-cuts to Next Gen TV,” PMC says in its comments. “Failing to do so may significantly delay or jeopardize the adoption of ATSC 3.0.”
The FCC’s ATSC 3.0 rules currently say that broadcasters can only require cable and satellite TV providers to continue carrying their ATSC 1.0 signals during the agency’s simulcast period, meaning as long as the simulcast rule remains in effect. Must-carry rules do not apply to a broadcaster’s 3.0 signal during the simulcast period, even if the broadcaster “flash-cuts” by dropping its 1.0 signal after converting to Next Gen TV.