TVFreedom.org has sent letters to the leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of its passage Thursday of a "clean" Satellite Television Access Reauthorization Act (STARA), the renamed STELA law.
That version of the law reauthorizing the satellite compulsory distant signal license does not include the prohibition on coordinated retrans that passed out of the Energy & Commerce Committee on the House version of a reauthorization bill, or getting rid of the requirement that cable ops put retrans TV station signals on the must-buy basic tier, which cable ops almost got into that House bill.
TVFreedom, whose members include the National Association of Broadcasters and affiliate associations, applauded the narrow Senate version.
“The legislation preserves, rather than eliminates or redesigns, the lifeline basic service tier provision,” it said, saying not requiring carriage of TV stations on that "lifeline" tier (cable ops call it "must-buy”) preserved a "vital" link to emergency information when disaster strikes.
TVFreedom said it is OK with taking a "holistic" review of video regs somewhere down the line as part of a wider review, but said STARA was not the place to do it.
TVFreedom also sent a copy to the Senate Commerce Committee hoping it would take its cue from Judiciary as it considers the bill.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) has suggested that committee might consider video reform regs in the context of the bill.
STARA must pass by the end of the year or the compulsory license sunsets, potentially affecting 1.5 million, mostly rural, subscribers’ access to network affiliates imported into markets that lack them. The bill also renews the FCC’s authority to enforce good faith retrans negotiations, which is where cable operators were hoping to get some purchase on arguments that retrans reforms in the context of the satellite law renewal were appropriate.