House panel reads out SHVURA bill


The reauthorization of SHVURA is on its way for consideration by the full House of Representatives with the Judiciary Committee stamp of approval. A rollcall vote produced a unanimous result, although many members were absent during a heavily scheduled day on the Hill.

The bill, formerly known as SHVERA, swapped out the E for a U, changing Extension to Update. The full name is “Satellite Home Viewer Update and Reauthorization Act.”

The bill includes a deal with Echostar’s DISH Network to provide local-into-local satellite service to all 210 Nielsen DMAs, in exchange for the right to import distant signals into “short” markets, meaning markets not served by a given broadcast network.

Currently, 28 smaller DMAs do not have local broadcasting stations included on their satellite channel lineups.

The bill was sponsored by House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet Chairman Rick Boucher (D-VA) and co-sponsored by Ranking Member Cliff Stearns (R-FL). That subcommittee and its parent Energy and Commerce Committee also put much work into the bill before yesterday’s step in Judiciary.

Two members of the House, Howard Berman (D-CA) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) stood up to speak against the bill. Berman said it was initiated long ago under very different video marketplace conditions and that many of its provisions are no longer needed. He said all stakeholders should consider this reauthorization to be for the Act’s final five years, and should begin preparing for its disappearance now if they feel the need. Issa offered an amendment limiting its term to two years, and withdrew it, saying he agreed totally with Berman and that his action served as notice that it was time to consider terminating the Act.

Much of the change in the bill is technical, reacting to the DTV conversion which took place since it was last reauthorized.

RBR/TVBR observation: Just because Berman and Issa don’t like the bill doesn’t mean it’s having its last 1,825 days in the sun. Nobody knows what things will look like in five years, including even little matters like if Berman and Issa will still be in Congress (you may recall that the Gray Davis governor recall in California was largely initiated by Issa, who also seemed to think that Issa, not Arnold Schwarzenegger, should have been the replacement). So prepare for SHVURA’s demise at your peril — it may survive past five years.