Rep. Walden: STELA Not Proper Venue For Any Retrans Change

Says Communications Act revamp, rather than hasty review for benefit of few players, is way to go

House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) signaled Wednesday that he thought the retransmission consent regime was working well and didn't think that the Satellite Television Extension and Reauthorization Act (STELA) was the right place to try and reform it.

That came in a speech at a retransmission consent event at the Hudson Institute in Washington.

Walden and House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton Nov. 3 announced the launch of a rewrite of the 1996 Communications Act, and Walden suggested that was where the retrans and other video marketplace issues should be addressed.

"The vast majority of retransmission consent agreements are resolved quietly, calmly, and without incident, and the same goes for the millions of other commercial contracts that comprise the way “Glee,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Scandal,” or “The Today Show” gets from studio to TV set."

"These agreements capture a complex, interdependent industry that generates billions in value, employs millions of people, and ultimately entertains, educates, and inspires countless millions more," he said. "Policymakers must be sensitive to the ripple effect of even the smallest changes in law," he said. "Some have seen the reauthorization of STELA as the only vehicle for addressing changes in the video marketplace. I believe it’s the wrong place to make changes to this legal regime."

Walden said that his proposed Communications Act revamp, which is targeted for 2015, is the better place to deal with retrans. "A real update to the law should not be hastily slapped together for the benefit of a few players in the industry."