It looks like satellite and cable operators--and everybody
else--will have to wait until the weekend to find out the status of the license
to deliver distant network-affiliated TV station signals into markets across
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has scheduled a
vote for 7:30 a.m. on Saturday on the defense appropriations bill (HR 3326) to
which has been appended a stop-gap measure to extend that satellite license for
60 days past its Dec. 31 expiration date.'
That's because legislators could not agree on reauthorizing
the full Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act (SHVERA) in
time to make the Dec. 31 sunset date. The main sticking point appears to
be a deal that would allow DISH Network back into the distant-signal business
in exchange for delivering local TV stations signals into every market in the
country (the smallest markets are uneconomical to serve).
The Senate voted early Friday morning (as in 1:30 a.m.) to
invoke cloture (cut off debate) on the Defense bill and move to a vote.
According to Reid's office, 7:30 Saturday was the soonest
the vote could be held due to Senate rules, unless Republicans helped by
yielding back time, which she said was highly unlikely.