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House Approves Satellite Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives this week approved the Satellite Home Viewer Reauthorization Act of 2009. The bill defines and extends the rights of satellite TV providers to carry broadcast TV signals in and out of market. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) said the bill, H.R. 3570, provided for carriage of local TV signals in all of the nation’s 210 designated market areas. Satellite operators have voluntarily added local signals in all but the smallest markets, where they say doing so is cost prohibitive.

Boucher said the bill allows EchoStar to import distant signals into the 28 TV markets where it does not yet have so-called “local-into-local” service. It must, however, provide service in all 28 of those markets.

“I am pleased that the House has approved today a renewal of the Satellite Home Viewer Act, provisions of which are set to expire at the end of this year,” he said. “This reauthorization will achieve a long held goal of having all 210 local television markets across the nation uplinked by satellite for the retransmission back into the markets in which the local TV signals originate. The goal is to ensure that satellite TV subscribers everywhere will be able to receive both national programming and the local TV stations that serve their area.

"I am optimistic that as a result of this legislation Echostar will launch local TV service in all 210 local markets over the coming year. Providing local TV service in the 28 currently unserved markets will make local TV news, sports, weather, essential emergency information and locally originated programs available in every part of the nation, a goal we are now very close to achieving.”

The House bill must be reconciled with similar legislation in the Senate before being signed into law by the president.