03.09.2006 12:00 AM
NAB, Net Affiliates Oppose SHVERA Petition for Reconsideration
On Jan. 6, 2006, DirecTV and EchoStar Satellite filed a Petition for Reconsideration in MB Docket 05-49, Implementation of the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act of 2004. The DBS companies argued that in this proceeding, "the Commission has adopted two overly restrictive conditions for satellite carriage of significantly viewed signals that are inconsistent with the text of SHVERA and risk undermining the very purposes for which SHVERA was enacted." DirecTV and EchoStar argued against the "equivalent bandwidth" provision requiring carriers to give equal bandwidth to local and significantly viewed network station pairs and to adjust to programming changes on a real time basis. They also objected to the FCC's interpretation that SHVERA requires a subscriber receive local-into-local service before receiving distant-into-local analog service. This was interpreted by the companies as meaning that a subscriber must receive a specific local network analog network signal as a precondition to receiving the analog signal of a distant station affiliated with the same network.

In their Joint Opposition to the Petition for Reconsideration, NAB and the ABC, CBS, FBC and NBC Television Affiliate Associations said, "The various objections of DirecTV and EchoStar ("Petitioners") to the Commission's interpretations of SHVERA's requirements for satellite delivery of significantly viewed signals are without merit." NAB and the affiliate groups said the comparative bid rate approach does not equate to an "equal bandwidth" requirement, noting that SHVERA precludes "identical bandwidth" and that the FCC explains at least five ways why its comparative bit rate approach is not an "equal bandwidth" or "identical bandwidth" requirement.

NAB and the affiliates also said there is no merit to the satellite carriers' objection to the FCC's interpretation of SHVERA requirements to receive an analog signal of the local station affiliated with a network before the subscriber can receive a significantly viewed station affiliated with the same network. According to the groups, "The Commission correctly explained in the Report and Order how Section 340(b)(1) must be construed together with Sections 340(b)(3) and 340(b)(4) and with the legislative history of SHVERA. Petitioners would have the Commission read and interpret specific provisions of SHVERA in isolation, out of context, and in obvious disregard of other interrelated provisions and the statute's legislative history."

The groups added, "What Petitioners really request is a regulatory-imposed advantage over local stations in retransmission consent negotiations."

NAB and the affiliate groups felt that the commission had correctly recognized that the intent of SHVERA was to protect localism and to prevent satellite carriers from bypassing local broadcasters or threatening to deliver out-of-market signals to gain better retransmission consent terms, and not to enhance negotiating leverage from either side. According to the statement from the groups, "Petitioners would ascribe to the statute a meaning and result that is completely at odds with the stated will of Congress."

For a complete understanding of the arguments, use the FCC's Search for Filed Comments page and enter 05-49 for the proceeding. This will provide a listing of all filings in this proceeding, including DirecTV and EchoStar's Petition for Reconsideration.


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