Senate Satellite Markup Expected Nov. 17

Draft of STELA bill circulated earlier this week

Look for a hearing Tuesday, Nov. 17, in the Senate Commerce Committee on its version of a satellite reauthorization bill, according to a Hill source.

A draft of the bill, the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA, bill number S. 2764), was circulated earlier this week.

Unlike the House version of the bill, it does not include a provision for getting local signals to all 210 TV markets or filling in so-called short markets. It also differs from the Senate Judiciary Committee version, which addresses short markets, too, though the STELA draft, like the Senate Judiciary version passed out of the committee, does include a call for a study of whether the compulsory license should be phased out. The Judiciary version asks for a Copyright Office study while the Commerce version requests a comptroller general study of Communications Act implications of a phase-out. That difference squares with the committee's shared jurisdiction, with Judiciary concentrating on copyright implications and Commerce on communications.

The bill reauthorizes satellite operators' license to import distant network signals to markets that lack a viewable version of their own local affiliate. The license will sunset at the end of the year unless it is reauthorized.