Proposed House Bill Would Extend Satellite Blanket License to April 30

Another extension introduced after five-year plan is caught up in House
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It looks like the satellite blanket license might have to
continue to be a temporary tag.

According to a copy of the bill's language supplied to B&C, HR 4851 has
been introduced in the House to extend the March 28 expiration of that license
to April 30.

When Congress failed to pass a five-year extension of the
license that allows satellite companies to offer distant network TV station
signals to subscribers who can't receive a viewable local version, the license
was extended to Feb. 28 along with several jobs-related programs that were also
scheduled to sunset Dec. 31, 2009.

That deadline passed without either a reauthorization or
extension and the license briefly expired, but was extended within days to
March 28 in hopes that the full, five-year extension could pass by then.

It did pass in the Senate, with language to retroactively
cover the few days when the license expired, but that bill has gotten caught up
in the House, according to a Senate Judiciary Committee source, hence the
introduction of yet another extension.

The House is expected to take up that bill Wednesday (March
17), but then it will have to go to the Senate. 

When the full, five-year extension does pass, it will
include a provision for providing satellite delivery of local signals to the
remaining couple dozen markets where it has been uneconomical to deliver them.

That is thanks to a deal that allows DISH network back into
the business of delivering distant signals in exchange for serving those
markets. DISH has been barred from distant signal delivery after a court
concluded it had not accurately identified the subscribers who qualified for
them. Determining eligibility is key, since a local ABC affiliate, for example,
does not want a distant ABC affil to be imported to viewers who can receive its
signal.

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