H.R. 4572, the STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014

May 7, 2014

Authored by Reps. Greg Walden (R-OR), Fred Upton (R-MI), Henry Waxman (D-CA), and Anna Eshoo (D-CA)

Extension of Retransmission Authority for Distant Signals
The bill reauthorizes the retransmission consent provisions for distant signals for five years, ensuring that 1.5 million subscribers in hard-to-reach areas continue to receive vital broadcast programming. 

No More Joint Retransmission Negotiations
Unaffiliated broadcast stations in a single market will no longer be able to negotiate jointly against pay-TV providers. This will help prevent pay-TV subscribers from losing more than one signal during a lapse in retransmission consent agreements.

Sweeps Prohibition
The bill levels the playing field for cable operators and broadcasters during “sweeps weeks” by removing a government restriction on cable’s ability to drop broadcast signals during the Nielsen ratings periods.

Repeal of the Integration Ban on Cable Operator-Owned Set-Top Boxes
The bill repeals the FCC’s ban on integrated security CableCARDS in cable-leased set-top boxes. The bill does not include any forward-looking restrictions on the FCC’s ability to promote competition and innovation in the set-top box market.

Delay on FCC Deadline to Dissolve Joint Sales Agreements
The FCC recently adopted new rules redefining the relationship between broadcasters in a joint sales agreement in a manner that would place some broadcasters over the local television ownership caps. The FCC’s Order would require broadcasters to unwind non-compliant JSAs within two years of the effective date of the order.

The bill changes the unwinding deadline to provide some stability to broadcasters and encourage prompt FCC action on petitions for waiver of the new rules. All broadcasters involved in such non-compliant JSAs will have until the end of 2016 or 18 months after the FCC’s denial of the respective waiver applications to unwind the JSAs, whichever is later. All waiver applications for existing non-compliant JSAs must be filed within 90 of the bill’s enactment.

To read the legislation, click HERE.

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