Members of Congress feel a little pressure to get the bill reauthorizing the Satellite Home Viewer Act reauthorization. The good news for broadcasters is that because of the deadline, there does not seem to be much enthusiasm for changing the law to allow satellite services to import out-of-DMA stations in certain instances. Lawmakers are much more interested in getting local-into-local service for all DMAs.
The main issue involves DMAs that straddle state lines. Satcasters want to be able to offer subscribers across the line from the main part of the DMA other stations from adjacent markets to gain access to state news.
Broadcasters have no problem with that as long as all duplicative programming is blacked out.
When representatives of the satellite industry pointed out that such a practice could cause the loss of up to 90% of a station’s programming, Disney’s Preston Padden suggested they simply negotiate the right to run the desired local news program on a one of the satcaster’s local public interest channels.
Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) lent a helping hand, showing the satcaster reps, including R. Stanton Dodge from DISH Network and Derek Chang from DIRECTV, a remote control, pointing out that most viewers use them constantly throughout the day and would go to the local news wherever it is if they so desire, and go elsewhere afterwards.
Both Walden and Ranking Member Cliff Stearns (R-FL) suggested that given deadline constraints and the availability of legal methods to get the desired news programming to the desired viewers, that they would prefer to move forward with the bill as is.
Asked about sharing the expense of bringing local-into-local into reality in the last remaining DMAs without it, Meredith’s Paul Karpowicz said that broadcasters are certainly willing to consider it, but have not been able to pin down what kind of dollars and cents are on the table to establish the service in all 210 DMAs. He said the matter is being studied