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House and Senate Approve Satellite License Extension

Satellite operators are good to go, at least until March 28.

Both the House and Senate were able to approve an extension
(H.R. 4691) for the satellite license (as part of a package of extensions that
included health and unemployment insurance benefits) as a stand-off ended with
a recalcitrant Senator.

The license allows satellite operators to import distant TV
station signals to subscribers in markets where they cannot get a viewable
signal of their own. The license expired Feb. 28, but Congress urged satellite
operators and the program suppliers who receive payment to preserve the status
quo and Congress would fix it later. Later is the full license reauthorization
bill that is currently part of a jobs bill on the Senate floor (HR 4213).

House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher
(D-Va.) says there is bipartisan support for that bill, so that when the Senate
passes it he expects the House can swiftly follow suit. That would be a
five-year reauthorization, he told B&C.
There had been some suggestion the satellite license bill, which involved
royalty collection and payment, might have to shift to a 10-year renewal for
pay-go reasons.