Senate Commerce Passes Satellite TV Bill
November 19, 2009
WASHINGTON: The Senate Commerce
Committee today passed its version of legislation that directs the carriage of
local TV stations on satellite systems. What is now known as STELA, for the
“Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act,” passed the committee in a
voice vote on a package of bills that included bones for low-power FM radio
stations, sharks, the Chesapeake Bay and public transportation.
STELA extends for five years the right for satellite TV providers to carry
out-of-market TV signals to household that can’t receive stations in their own
markets. Current law, known as SHVERA, expires at the end of this year. This new legislation
also replaces language referring to analog signals with references to digital
transmissions, and directs the FCC to develop a correlative reception test. It
also directs the commission to determine whether the licensing scheme it
extends should be scuttled in favor of negotiations between stations and DBS
Several legislators have pushed DBS operators to carry local stations in all
210 TV markets. DirecTV does so in 152 markets; Dish Network, in 182--both as
of Oct. 8. They say the remaining markets are too cost-prohibitive to serve.
The Commerce version of the bill doesn’t require or provide incentives for
local-into-local in all 210 markets, but Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller
(D.-WV) said the issue would be a priority when the legislation is merged with
versions from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
That mash-up must then be voted on by the full Senate and reconciled with a
similarly mashed-up version in the House that has yet to reach the floor.
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(Image by Jeremy
on satellite legislation:
October 20, 2009: “SHVERA Estimated to Cost $11 per Family”
A watchdog Web site maintained by the Cato
Institute estimated Satellite Home Viewer Update and Reauthorization Act of
2009 will cost taxpayers around $10.96 per family.
October 15, 2009: House
Commerce Committee Passes SHVERA
H.R. 2994 included a directive for determining digital-signal eligibility
based on new digital reception methodology.
October 8, 2009: “Broadcasters Fight
Until a new digital metric is determined, Karpowicz suggested
grandfathering in distant signals allowed by the previous determination.
July 15, 2009: “Congressman Bows Bill
to Import TV Signals”
Arkansas Democrat Mike Ross is pushing legislation to overturn the current
rules governing which broadcast signals satellite and cable operators can
June 25, 2009: “SHVERA Passes House
The only changes to the legislation as it was written in 2004 were the date and
the provision to measure digital signal coverage using the Longley-Rice model
employed by the FCC.
June 16, 2009: “Broadcasters Battle for
The broadcast lobby is playing the localism card in a big way as Congress
considers the renewal of the SHVERA.
May 8, 2009: “ACA Says Retrans is
Squeezing Too Hard”
The cable industry has not yet rolled over on retransmission consent, whether
or not it comes up in pending satellite copyright legislation.
March 30, 2009: “Network Affiliates Urge
Lawmakers to Preserve Distant-Signal Limits”
CBS and NBC are urging key lawmakers to maintain restrictions on what TV
stations cable and satellite operators can carry in a given market.