Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), vice chairman of the House Communications Subcommittee, has asked Commerce Chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and John Thune, ranking member of the committee, to vote on and approve the House version of the STELA Reauthorization Act, which passed in the House this week.
Rockefeller has said the committee would work on the bill in September, and there has been talk he might use it to achieve various video reforms before he retires at the end of the year.
Latta and Rep. Gene Green (R-Tex.), who also signed the letter, point out that the House bill was bipartisan, that STELA needs to pass by the end of the year—or the satellite license expires that allows 1.5 million viewers, mostly rural, to access distant network signals—and that it includes targeted video reforms.
They point particularly to the provision eliminating the FCC ban on integrated set-top boxes, which Latta motormanned. "They call it an 'unnecessary regulation that does not reflect the state of the competition...'"
"We encourage the Senate to act swiftly and approve H.R. 4572," they concluded in their letter to Rockefeller."
A Senate version of STELA reauthorization has passed the Judiciary Committee, but that is a one-pager without any reforms, including the integration ban provision, and the prohibition on coordinated retrans and lifting the prohibition on cable operators dropping TV station signals during sweeps, both of which passed in H.R. 4572.