House E&C Schedules STVPA Markup

The House Energy & Commerce Committee is wasting no time acting on bills favorably reported out of the Communications Subcommittee last week, including the Satellite Television Viewers Protection Act (STVPA), which renews the STELAR law for another five years.

It has scheduled a markup for Nov. 19 on 18 bills only five days after the Communications subcommittee approved them by voice vote.

The renewal of STELAR--which includes the satellite compulsory license and good faith retrans bargaining mandate--must happen before the end of the year (or the deadline extended), or the license and good faith requirement expire.

The Senate is not as far along in its consideration of a different STELAR renewal, so a deadline extension might me necessary no matter how expeditious the House is. While the Senate bill is a clean renewal with no amendments, it was pulled from its markup last week because, according to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), some of his colleagues wanted to add some reforms to the bill.

House Republicans did not oppose voting STELAR out of the subcommittee, but reserved the right to oppose it in full committee. They have issues with various retrans reform add-ons to that bill and the process by which they were added on.

Also being marked up Tuesday are a number of broadband-related bills:

H.R. 4229, the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act or the Broadband DATA Act, which requires the FCC to put out new rules on collecting more granular broadband availability data and verify its accuracy, something the FCC is already in the process of doing under pressure from Congress and others.

H.R. 4227, the Mapping Accuracy Promotion Services Act (MAPS Act), which would make it illegal for carriers to submit inaccurate data on broadband availability.

H.R. 5000, the Studying How to Harness Airwave Resources Efficiently Act of 2019 (SHARE Act), which requires the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, which oversees federal spectrum, to consult with the FCC on a spectrum-sharing program and test bed.

H.R. 4998, the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019, which requires the FCC to create and maintain a list of "communications equipment and services that pose an unacceptable risk to national security and prohibits the use of funds made available by FCC programs to purchase, rent, lease, or otherwise obtain such equipment and services." It also creates a program for helping smaller providers pay for removing and replacing suspect tech and services from their networks.

H.R. 4461, the Network Security Information Sharing Act of 2019, which would direct the Secretary of Homeland Security, along with the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, NTIA, and FCC, to create a program for sharing supply chain security risk information with communications service providers and suppliers.

H.R. 2881, the Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2019, which would direct the President to develop a "Secure Next Generation Mobile Communications Strategy” in consultation with the heads of FCC, NTIA, and Department of Homeland Security, as well as the DNI and Secretary of Defense."

H.R. 4500, the Promoting United States Wireless Leadership Act of 2019, which directs NTIA to "encourage participation by trusted American companies and other stakeholders in standards-setting bodies, and to offer technical assistance to stakeholders that do elect to participate, in the course of developing standards for 5G networks and future generations of communications networks."

H. Res. 575, "expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that all stakeholders in the deployment of 5G communications infrastructure should carefully consider and adhere to the recommendations adopted at the Prague 5G security conferences known as "the Prague Proposals." Those include that laws on connectivity are guided by equity and that influence from foreign entities must be taken into account. 

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.