Communications and Technology Subcommittee Reviews Draft Legislation to Reauthorize the Nation’s Satellite Television Law

March 12, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, chaired by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), today held a legislative hearing to examine draft legislation aimed at reauthorizing the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act. Released last week, the draft legislation would reauthorize the law for five years and address a number of discrete issues raised over the course of the subcommittee’s year-long review of STELA. Reauthorizing STELA would ensure continued operation of satellite television services for 1.5 million American households.

“Today’s hearing follows several previous hearings on the subject, multiple hearings on the communications marketplace, a bipartisan roundtable debate on the issue of the integration ban, and an incredible number of meetings with stakeholders by members of this committee on both sides of the aisle. It’s taken an enormous amount of work, but this draft has earned the support of cable, broadcast, and satellite competitors,” said Walden. “We believe in spurring innovation, not holding it back.”

In addition to reauthorizing the law for five years, the draft legislation includes limitations on joint retransmission consent negotiations in conjunction with limitations on FCC action on broadcaster shared services arrangements, the elimination of the “sweeps” week prohibition on signal change, and the elimination of the set-top box integration ban. Members today heard from representatives of the satellite, broadcast, cable, set-top-box, and public interest communities who discussed the provisions included in the draft legislation.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Walden also spoke to the urgency in getting this “must pass” legislation across the finish line. Reminding members and the public of the committee’s work in pursuit of a #CommActUpdate, Walden said, “Our work here is set against the backdrop of our larger effort to update the Communications Act and bring our communications laws in line with the innovation and dynamism of the communications marketplace.” He continued, “This will be a time-consuming process, however, and as my colleague Mr. Shimkus explained to Politico last week, “’The telecom rewrite, that’s not for sissies.’”

“Thanks to the hard work of this subcommittee and input from the public and industry stakeholders, Chairman Walden has issued a discussion draft that offers practical, narrow reforms to the current video market while properly leaving comprehensive reform to the #CommActUpdate,” added Upton. “I strongly support this draft and encourage others to do so as well.”