Following up on a hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, members of the Senate Commerce Committee began their review of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA), which is set to sunset at the end of this year. Among the witnesses appearing before the committee was Bill Lake, Chief of the FCC’s Media Bureau, and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) made sure to take the opportunity to raise concern about the controversial “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs” study (the “CIN study”).
The CIN study was abandoned by the FCC after its “Fairness Doctrine”-like questions were unearthed, and Senator Cruz asked Mr. Lake directly, “Can you assure this committee today that the FCC has no intention to go forward with this kind of inquiry?” Lake asserted that the FCC had not intended to intrude into newsrooms through the study and there were “no plans to continue with a study of that type.”
A number of other contested communications laws were debated during the hearing, including retransmission consent and joint sales agreements (JSAs), topics that had been sparked anew at the FCC’s Open Meeting on Monday. NRB continues to monitor these STELA proceedings carefully, specifically advocating that rules establishing the responsibility of pay-TV providers to carry local TV stations on their base platforms (“Must Carry”) are not weakened. NRB has been vocal in its concern that Congress not abandon the decades-old commitment to local television, particularly religious television, and NRB will continue to be vigilant in this area of great importance for Christian television ministries.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: April 4, 2014