DirecTV Drops $970,000 on Lobbying in 2Q

WASHINGTON: Satellite TV provider DirecTV spent $970,000 lobbying Congress in the second quarter, according to Forbes. Two pending bills could have a significant impact on the DBS operator. The Satellite Consumers’ Right to Local Channel Act, rolled out last February by Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, and the Local Television Freedom Act of 2009, introduced by Arkansas Democrat Mike Ross in the House last month.

Stupak’s bill requires DBS operators to carry local TV channels in all markets. Cable operators must do so under law, but satellite carriers have more or less been strongly urged to follow suit. Ross’s bill would allow satellite providers to carry out-of-market TV signals across state lines.

Satellite operators, e.g., DirecTV and Dish, have long agitated for the right to carry out-of-market TV stations. In some cases, the coverage of an out-of-market station is more applicable to households on the fringe of a market than those stations assigned to the market. Satellite operators cleave to this notion, but they also want greater negotiating leverage when it comes to the fees broadcasters now seek for carriage of local signals.

There are waivers in certain circumstance, but for the most part, they can only offer in-market TV stations within an FCC-designated market area. Ross’s bill gives state borders precedence over DMA boundaries.

(Image by David Cassidy)

More TVB coverage of broadcast TV/satellite carriage issues:
July 15, 2009:
Congressman Bows Bill to Import TV Signals
Ross noted that current law dictates that pay providers carry the signals of TV stations according to reception in designated market areas. Around half of those DMAs cross state lines, leaving a portion of pay TV subscribers watching broadcast stations from a neighboring state. The rules are part of the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act, which recently passed a Commerce subcommittee with a comment from its chairman that the local TV signal issue would be addressed.