Broadcasters To Fight STELA Retrans Threat

Among the key provisions widely rumored to be under serious consideration for inclusion in a draft satellite TV bill that could be introduced in the House of Representatives as soon as today, is one that would free cable TV operators of their current legal obligation to carry retrans stations on the basic cable tiers that all cable TV subscribers are required to buy, sources say.

Broadcast industry lobbyists are scrambling today (March 3) to derail an effort to include provisions in a satellite TV bill that could gut retransmission consent rights of television stations.

Among the key provisions widely rumored to be under serious consideration for inclusion in a draft satellite TV bill that could be introduced in the House of Representatives as soon as today, is one that would free cable TV operators of their current legal obligation to carry retrans stations on the basic cable tiers that all cable TV subscribers are required to buy, sources say.

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Another key provision said to be under consideration, according to broadcast lobbyists, would eliminate a regulation that currently bars cable and satellite TV operators from dropping broadcast signals during retrans disputes that occur during ratings sweeps periods.

Still another provision would allow cable operators to decide whether to negotiate retrans agreements individually or jointly with TV stations that are linked together under joint sales agreements.

Sources say the provisions are under consideration for inclusion in a draft bill being put together by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, in an apparent effort to mollify Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), who would prefer to ax retransmission consent and the FCC’s must-carry rules altogether.

The satellite TV bill under consideration would reauthorize the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA), a measure that clears the way for satellite TV services to retransmit signals of distant TV stations into some local markets.

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Congressional members are reportedly planning to meet this evening to decide what provisions should be included in the draft STELA reauthorization bill.

Rumors that Walden is considering including the retrans reform provisions in his STELA reauthorization caught some observers by surprise, because the lawmaker publicly announced in December that he opposed including retrans reform provisions in STELA.

The Colorado Broadcasters Association alerted broadcasters to the legislative threat in a tweet late last Friday, Feb 28.

“We understand that the bill may contain the elimination of the basic tier for retransmission consent stations and other harmful provisions,” the CBA tweet said. “Between now and Monday, TV broadcasters need to do everything possible to ask these members of Congress to advocate for a clean STELA bill.”

“If these reports are true, NAB will lobby aggressively against the legislation,” Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters, told TVNewsCheck.

STELA has been a key target for the pay TV industry’s retrans reform advocates because it’s one of the only media-related bills believed to have a reasonable chance of being approved by Congress this year.

A spokesman for Walden declined comment.


Comments (4) -

Chuck Nickname posted over 3 years ago
There is a real attack going on against over-the-air television. And that is too bad. As viewers we are quite happy with what we get and fear that what we have will be lost and we will face having to pay for the TV we now watch. If that happens we will also lose great HDTV. We lived in Alaska recently for a year and were in an apartment that came with cable. I couldn't stand the poor picture quality (even on the HD tier) and purchased an indoor antenna to watch the local stations. Got it in time for the All-Star game. Couldn't stand the thought of being limited to a cable signal.
Roger Thornhill Nickname posted over 3 years ago
While the government dithers away and looks increasingly foolish on the international scene, they correspondingly and inexplicably pile up their assaults on broadcast television. First it's the Incentive Auction, next the CIN Study, then an FCC plan involving the DOJ to do away with JSAs and now a re-write of STELA which clearly favors cable and satellite over broadcasters on basic tier must-carry rights. What next? How about the Video Choice Act introduced by Silicon Valley toady Rep. Anna Eshoo. This bill would force television network affiliates to furnish their programming to pay-TV providers at below-market rates, while allowing cable and online programmers to set their own prices. It would force government rate regulation on local television programming as well as force broadcasters to distribute their content online whenever the agency determines retrans negotiations have reached a stalemate. Is this government corrupt and nuts or what? And is it any wonder why broadcasters are forced to go into full battle mode against their own government?
Homebrew Nickname posted over 3 years ago
You know there are two factions at play here. First, it is the GREED of the FCC wanting to auction more bandwidth. SECOND is the Cellular and broadband providers trying to get the spectrum. BOTHwill result in the loss of the peoples free OTA TV. We must do all we can to prevent this!
Chuck Nickname posted over 3 years ago
I don't understand why local TV stations don't tell their story on their own stations. Some people don't even know you can get TV OTA free without satellite or cable. And they don't realize that the picture is better using an antenna. We have had guests mention that our TV looks better than theirs. I just reply "You must have cable." I really do think this auction could finish off free TV and most people have no idea what is going on.
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Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 27, 2016
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