The law allowing DBS providers to bring distant TV network signals is due to expire at the end of 2004. The Satellite Home Viewer Extension Act of 2004 has been placed before the Senate to provide a "five-year extension of the statutory license for satellite carriers to make secondary transmissions of 'distant' network and superstation television programs, which is set forth in section 119 of the Copyright Act."
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) explained in his statement to the Senate that, "The current section 119 license permits satellite carriers to provide subscribers that reside in unserved households with network programming from distant television markets. This section is set to expire at the end of 2004. The extension of this statutory license for an additional five years would continue to serve the many interests that the section 119 license seeks to advance. Most importantly, it assures that television viewers incapable of receiving local network stations off the air retain access to network programming via satellite. This is particularly important for viewers who live in rural areas and may be unserved by either local stations or cable carriers. The limited extension also recognizes, however, that satellite carriers are still in the process of making local signals available to their subscribers, an important development for viewers and local broadcasters, as well as for the satellite carriers themselves. The Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act of 1999, which I was proud to help draft, authorized for the first time the retransmission of local signals to satellite subscribers residing in those local markets. The rollout of 'local-into-local' service by satellite carriers continues at a substantial rate, giving subscribers more choices than ever and further strengthening the competition between cable and satellite carriers. In light of these continuing changes, an additional extension of the Section 119 license is warranted pending further developments in this area."
NAB President and CEO Edward O. Fritts stated, "We applaud Senators Hatch, Leahy, DeWine and Kohl for their continued recognition of the importance of free, local over-the-air broadcasting. We support introduction of this legislation and will work towards passage of a bill re-authorizing the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act. Our ultimate goal is to see 'local-to-local' extended to all television stations in all 210 markets, and we strongly oppose attempts by satellite providers to bypass carriage of local stations."
See the Satellite Home Viewer Extension Act of 2004 and the full text of Senator Hatch's comments for more information.
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