The Patrons of Husbandry that would be the National Grange is sending letters to all members and staff of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee telling them to renew the STELAR legislation it says preserves "basic broadcast network programming in places where over-the-air signals can’t reach."
STELAR is the latest name for the bill/law that dates from 1988 and that established the compulsory license that allows satellite operators to import distant network TV station affiliates into local markets where viewers lack access to them for a variety of reasons.
If Congress is going to continue that license, it must renew that portion of the STELAR law by end end of the year, and working days on the congressional calendar are dwindling fast. That means major, and disputed, moves like canning the license or attaching a raft of retrans-related elements, as MVPDs are pushing, will happen.
Media analyst Craig Moffet said in a C-SPAN interview this week that it is hard to be optimistic about any legislative efforts given that telecom issues that used to be bipartisan don't seem to be anymore. "Whether it is the [STELAR] reauthorization or C-Band bills."
"This important legislation will help preserve the connectivity of hard working, rural communities by providing them access to local news, sports, weather and other programming of their choice without interruption," the Grange is telling Congress.
MPVDs want the license to continue, while broadcasters argue it is time for it to sunset and for MVPs to have to negotiate for their must-have programming.
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.
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