Eshoo Has Issues with STELA Draft

If the ranking member is any indication, the Democrats on the House Communications Subcommittee have a bone or two to pick with the STELA draft.

In her opening statement for the March 12 hearing on reauthorizing the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) said that she had been working with Republican Steve Scalise (R-La.) on video reform legislation in a bipartisan manner, but she could not say the same for the STELA draft.

"Unfortunately, several of the provisions in this discussion draft do not embody the bipartisan values that have been the cornerstone of previous reauthorizations," she said.

In particular, she pointed to the draft's elimination of the FCC's ban on integrated set-tops.

"We need to be forward-thinking in our approach to legislating, but this bill dismantles a provision that has helped to ensure that consumers can buy cable set-top boxes from someone other than their local cable company, without any eye to the future," she said.

"I’m also concerned by a provision that would effectively bar the FCC from modifying its rules to close a loophole that broadcasters have been exploiting to circumvent the FCC’s media ownership rules," she said.

That is the part that would prevent the FCC from making TV joint sales agreements above 15% of advertising attributable under ownership rules unless it came as part of a 2010 quadrennial review. That is a report to Congress that is four years overdue. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said he plans to vote the JSA item first and roll the 2010 review into the 2014 review starting at the end of this month.

She urged chairman Greg Walden (R-ore.) to eliminate or redraft those provisions.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.