SHVIA Clears House

The House passed the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act (SHVIA) Wednesday While the bill kiboshes the double-dish construct used by EchoStar for local channels, it allows out-of-market signal importation of "significantly viewed channels" to continue. "In our age of technological globalization, we need to create
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The House passed the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act (SHVIA) Wednesday

While the bill kiboshes the double-dish construct used by EchoStar for local channels, it allows out-of-market signal importation of "significantly viewed channels" to continue.

"In our age of technological globalization, we need to create an environment where all of our citizens, from Times Square to the most rural point in Texas, have the opportunity to stay informed of national and world events," said House Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton, (R-Texas). "Satellite programming meets this need, and passage of this legislation will ensure that more Americans have this availability."

However, the bill does not include the satellite industry's "digital white area" proposal to allow DBS operators to deliver distant, out-of-market digital broadcast signals to areas not reached by terrestrial DTV signals. The bill instructs the FCC to deliver a report to Congress in 2005 on implementing digital white area provision.

"SBCA is pleased with today's House passage of the SHVIA reauthorization and appreciates the efforts of all key players to get this must-pass legislation approved," said Richard DalBello, president of the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association. "Although there are provisions, such as the 'digital white area' proposal, that we would like to see included in the final passage, today's vote is good for consumers and a move in the right direction."

Broadcasters, who are still ramping up to full-power digital operations, have fought the digital white area proposition. NAB President Eddie Fritts was satisfied with the way the House bill turned out.

"NAB applauds the House's passage of the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act, legislation that balances the needs of consumers, local television and the satellite industry," he said. "We are grateful for the diligent and cooperative work of the leaders and members of the Judiciary and Commerce Committees in driving the measure forward. It is now vital that the Senate move decisively to pass this landmark bill before the end of the session and the expiration of the current law."

The Senate must approve a final SHVIA reauthorization before the legislation can be signed into law.