Industry organizations weigh in on STAVRA


Gordon SmithSTAVRA is the Satellite Television Access and Viewer Rights Act, into which a pair of key senators have injected a provision affecting local retransmission consent that is music to the ears of cable companies and utter cacophony to broadcasters. Here are comments from NAB, ATVA, TVFreedom and ACA.

The provision from Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and John Thune (R-SD) would essentially establish a la carte cable channel menus for local broadcast stations while offering no such consumer choice for cable channels.

Here is what interested parties had to say:

* National Association of Broadcasters President/CEO Gordon Smith: NAB opposes this proposal because it eliminates the basic tier upon which millions rely for access to lifeline information. It proposes a broadcast a la carte scheme that will lead to higher prices and less program diversity. Furthermore, STAVRA appears to confer unfettered and unprecedented authority for government intervention into private marketplace negotiations. NAB continues to support the noncontroversial and bipartisan clean STELA reauthorization passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which ensures continued access to broadcast television for rural viewers.

* American Cable Association President/CEO Matt Polka: ACA believes that Sen. Rockefeller and Sen. Thune, acting in a bipartisan fashion on an important consumer welfare issue, deserve the highest praise for offering a legislative proposal designed to advance the public interest in the receipt of over-the-air local broadcast stations from pay-TV providers. The approach taken by Sens. Rockefeller and Thune is to put consumers first.  It will permanently remove consumers from retransmission consent disputes and provide consumers with more choice in the selection of TV station programming than they have seen in decades.

* spokesperson Robert Kenney: Given the Local Choice proposal’s negative impact on competition – as well as America’s television viewers and local TV stations – little justification exists for Congressional haste to pass such legislation by year’s end.  Any Congressional bill that includes the components of the Local Choice proposal will ultimately cost pay-TV consumers more for less programming under an unproven and often criticized à la carte model, drive local TV stations off the air and completely fail to address true market failures that harm American consumers as a result of the deceptive billing practices of cable and satellite TV providers.  In this instance, STAVRA as being presented publicly, is nothing more than a pay-TV giveaway.

* American Television Alliance: We applaud Chairman Rockefeller and Ranking Member Thune for their thoughtful work and leadership creating STAVRA. The reforms that it provides will bring relief to TV viewers who have suffered from skyrocketing fees and blackouts, including the millions of DIRECTV subscribers across the country who are currently being blacked out by Raycom. Local Choice, an important component of STAVRA, would end these blackouts once and for all. We look forward to working with the Senate Commerce Committee and its members to pass STAVRA and reform retransmission consent.