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FCC notice seeks comment on proposed SHVERA implementation rules

The FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking April 29 regarding implementing the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act of 2004 (SHVERA) that initiates new satellite broadcast carriage requirements to the noncontiguous United States.

The notice seeks comment on rules to implement the requirement that satellite carriers with more than five million subscribers carry both the analog and digital signals of television broadcast stations in local markets in the noncontiguous states.

The SHVERA requires satellite carriers to provide these signals to substantially all of their subscribers in each station’s local market by Dec. 8, 2005, for analog signals and by June 8, 2007, for digital signals. Currently, satellite providers DirecTV and EchoStar qualify for the satellite broadcast carriage requirements because they have more than 5 million subscribers.

The Notice also seeks public comment on whether the term “noncontiguous states” includes territories and possessions, such as Puerto Rico and Guam, as well as Alaska and Hawaii. It also seeks comment on the interpretation that satellite carriers' obligation to carry local stations' signals extends to the whole broadcast signal, including multicast digital signals and high definition signals. The proposed rules establish two deadlines for local stations to elect mandatory carriage or retransmission consent: Oct. 1, 2005, for analog signals, and April 1, 2007, for digital signals.

Comments on the notice are due June 6 and reply comments are due June 20.

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