The Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) commended the House of Representatives for passing H.R. 4572, the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Reauthorization Act (STELA–some call it STELAR).
“I am proud to say that the STELA Reauthorization Act is yet another example of true bipartisanship with support from all sectors of the communications industry. This type of collaboration has long been the hallmark of our committee, and I’m pleased to see this legislative result. I can only urge the Senate to act swiftly and pass this bill into law before the year’s end,” said Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR).
Judiciary Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Howard Coble (R-NC) added, “I strongly support the STELA Reauthorization Act because I want to make sure our satellite-subscribing constituents have access to network channels. While we work to protect intellectual property rights on the digital platform, it’s critical that we do not limit consumers’ access to content in a reasonable and legal manner. With that in mind, I’d also like to thank everyone in the intellectual property community for the friendship that has been extended to me throughout my career while working on these important issues.”
The Energy and Commerce Committee approved H.R. 4572 on May 8, and the Judiciary Committee approved, H.R. 5036, on July 10. The House today approved H.R. 4572 as passed by the Energy and Commerce Committee, with the language of H.R. 5036 added as a second title to the bill.
Authored by Upton, Walden, full committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-CA), H.R. 4572 makes the following targeted reforms to the video marketplace:
- Prohibits joint retransmission consent negotiations;
- Provides broadcasters additional time to unwind business arrangements deemed no longer in the public interest by the FCC through its recent changes in how it calculates ownership interests under the media ownership rules;
- Eliminates the “sweeps” week prohibition on signal change; and
- Eliminates the set-top box integration ban.
H.R. 4572 has received the support of groups including 21st Century Fox, ABC / Disney, the American Cable Association, the American Television Alliance, CBS, DIRECTV & Dish Network, and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.
“The Association of Public Television Stations is grateful for the bipartisan leadership of Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-CA), and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) in passing the reauthorization of STELA, governing the satellite carriage of local television stations,” said APTS president and CEO Patrick Butler.
“The House reauthorization of STELA is an important step toward assuring that millions of public television viewers will continue to receive their local public television stations’ programming and education, public safety and citizenship services via satellite, and we look forward to future action on the Senate version of this legislation and final congressional approval of this essential measure before year’s end,” said Butler.
American Television Alliance released the following statement: “We applaud the leadership and members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee for their efforts to craft legislation that will provide some meaningful reforms for consumers. The STELA bill is an improvement on current law and will ensure that at least 1.5 million Americans don’t lose access to broadcast TV signals. The bill’s prohibition of joint retransmission consent negotiations is a step in the right direction to help curb skyrocketing retrans fees and TV blackouts. We further encourage the Committee to continue to look for solutions to the other problems that result from our outdated retransmission consent regime.”
American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew Polka issued the following statement: “ACA applauds the U.S. House of Representatives on today’s voice-vote passage of STELAR (H.R. 4572), which contains a number of important pro-consumer reforms of the pay-television market. Importantly, the bill includes a ban on retransmission consent bargaining collusion by separately owned local TV stations serving the same market. That provision builds on a similar bipartisan collusion ban adopted by the Federal Communications Commission on March 31.
ACA is also pleased that the House STELAR bill repeals the FCC rule requiring cable operators to deploy set-tops boxes (STBs) with a separate security module known as the CableCARD. This regulation has proved to be costly, burdensome and, by the FCC’s own analysis, ineffective in creating a retail market for cable STBs.
ACA is hopeful that the U.S. Senate will embrace the House-passed STELAR reforms and consider attaching other proposals that would provide consumers with more choice and competition as well as some relief from a record-setting number of blackouts by price-gouging local TV stations and dominant cable programming providers.”