President Signs Satellite Legislation

WASHINGTON: President Obama signed into law the bill governing satellite TV provider carriage of broadcast signals. The Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010 is the first such bill to require satellite carriage of local TV station signals in all 210 U.S. markets. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) said full local-into-local was a goal of the legislation.

“At present, 28 rural local markets do not have this service,” Boucher said in a statement. “Today, we have taken the final step in achieving this long held goal, and as a result, satellite TV subscribers everywhere will be able to receive both national programming and the local TV stations that serve their area.”

Under the terms of the new law, EchoStar’s Dish Network can import distant network signals to fill in coverage gaps in specific markets. It was enjoined from doing so until it agreed to provide local-into-local in all U.S. TV markets.

“With today’s presidential signature, on June 3 Dish Network will begin serving the many rural markets that lack vital local TV signals,” Boucher said. “I want to commend the leadership of Dish Network for making this commitment. Millions of homes in America’s most rural regions will be the beneficiaries.”

-- Deborah D. McAdams

May 12, 2010: Congress Passes Five-Year Satellite Act
The bill changes how households qualify for outside-market TV signals carried by direct broadcast satellite providers. DBS operators generally could carry these distant-signal to households unable to receive in-market TV stations over the air. The new law loosens how to determine which households fall into that category.