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House Approves Bill Requiring Good Faith Retrans Talks

WASHINGTON—Following a year where a record number of TV blackouts occurred due to retransmission disputes, the U.S. House of Representatives have passed the Television Viewer Protection Act, HR 5035, that aims to ensure cable and satellite TV customers have access to broadcast network programming, in part with a mandate for good faith negotiations between broadcasters and MVPDs.

The bill, which was co-sponsored by House Communications Subcommittee Chair Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and House Energy & Commerce Committee ranking member Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) in a bipartisan effort, passed on suspension, a procedure that is typically reserved for noncontroversial items.

In addition to making good faith negotiations required—something required in the STELAR Act—TVPA provides consumers with transparency regarding their fees on cable and satellite bills, as well as gives MVPD buying groups the same good faith negotiation requirements.

One thing that this bill is not is a renewal of the STELAR Act, which is currently still set to expire at the end of the year and deals with compulsory digital signal-licenses.

“The Television Viewer Protection Act will benefit millions of Americans who subscribe to cable or satellite TV service,” said Doyle.

TVPA will now make its way to the Senate, where reports are that it will pass, with Doyle reportedly hoping to have the bill in front of President Donald Trump’s before the end of the year.