No New Extension or Bill For STELA As Deadline Approaches

Full five-year reauthorization remains pending in House
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With three days to go before
the license expires yet again for satellite operators to deliver distant
network affiliated TV station signals, neither a new extension nor a new bill
has been passed as Congress tries to get out of town for the Easter/spring break.

According to a spokesperson
for the Senate Judiciary Committee, the full five-year reauthorization of STELA
(the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act) remains pending in the
House, while a 30-day extension to April 30 is still pending in the Senate.

The license was to have
expired Dec. 31, 2009, and a five-year reauthorization was close to passage.
But some Republicans were concerned about the language allowing DISH Network
back into the distant-signal business in exchange for delivering local signals
into the couple dozen or so remaining small markets where it has been
uneconomical to deliver.

That language was toughened,
but then the reauthorization got packaged with a jobs bill that ran into a
single Senator with issues about renewing unemployment insurance and how that
was going to paid for.

The license had to be
extended to Feb. 28 with a stopgap bill, extended again to March 28 with yet
another temporary fix, and now will have to be extended again or reauthorized
in full.

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Congress Passes STELA

Full satellite reauthorization bill passed after months of delays; renews blanket license on distant signals for another five years.