It looks like Congress will give itself another 30 days to
figure out how to reauthorize the license that allows satellite operators to
carry distant network signals.
According to a draft of a Senate bill extending the deadlines on a number of
items, the extension passed last year moving the sunset deadline for the
satellite bill from Dec. 31 to Feb. 28, would be moved to March 28.
The bill will have to be approved before March 1, or the license expires and
distant signal viewers would lose access to out-of-market affiliate signals.
According to sources, there was an effort
floated Monday (Feb. 22) to secure passage of a 15-day extension to the
satellite bill by unanimous consent, which means without a floor vote but also
without any objections from even a single legislator.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) two weeks ago stripped a new version
of that jobs bill of a number of those unrelated provisions, including a full
version of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA).
That Senate version of STELA would renew satellite operators' blanket license
to import distant network-affiliated TV stations to viewers in markets where
they can't receive a viewable local version. It also creates an incentive for
DISH to deliver local-into-local service, establishes a new timetable for the
delivery of high-definition signals of noncommercial stations, a new method for
determining who is eligible to receive the signals, and mandates a series of
reports on, among other things, whether the blanket license should be phased