House Committee Continues STELA Review

A House panel this week considered what to do with an expiring satellite law that has catalyzed debate about the efficacy of television law more broadly. With provisions of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) set to sunset next year, the Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee held its second hearing on the subject this year. 

Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) opened the hearing by stating,

Congress passed the original law in 1988 to give the then-nascent satellite industry a leg up in providing distant broadcast signals to viewers out of range of local over-the-air signals. Today, however, DirecTV and Dish control one third of the pay-tv market and are the second and third largest pay-tv providers behind Comcast…. Some stakeholders argue we should use the reauthorization to revisit retransmission consent. They also argue that we should take another look at cable regulations, such as the must-carry, basic-tier, buy-through, program carriage, program access, and set-top box rules…. Should [the government] be intervening at all in the current marketplace? And if the answer is yes in some cases but not others, what is the justification?

Some Committee members, including Democrat leaders on the panel, suggested a simple reauthorization of STELA, while others appeared interested in a broader overhaul of communications law beyond simply satellite television. 

NRB has trumpeted the value of faith programming in American media, in particular emphasizing the vital significance of “Must Carry” laws for many religious TV stations. NRB will continue to be vigilant on behalf of “Must Carry” rights for NRB TV Members.

Find the video from this hearing along with opening statement transcripts.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: June 14, 2013