House E&C Eyes May 8 For STELA Markup

According to sources on and off the Hill, the Republican leadership of the House Energy & Commerce Committee is looking at May 8 for a full committee markup of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA). That is where a bill is amended, debated and, ideally, voted.

The date is not set in stone, said a committee source, but it is on the table if Democrats are amenable.

The draft was approved by the Communications Subcommittee March 25.

It was not quite the clean bill initially advertised by the Republican leadership, but it had bipartisan support with one caveat. Cable operators were particularly pleased that it would sunset the FCC's set-top integration ban, which cable operators have been pushing for, though it also allows the FCC to reimpose it.

The draft leaves open the question of blocking the FCC's JSA attribution change, teed up for a March 31 vote.

The Republican-led draft, which passed out of committee unanimously, initially had a provision preventing the FCC from taking any action on making joint sales agreements attributable unless it was in the context of an overall resolution of the overdue 2010 quadrennial rule review. That provision remains in the bill, but was put in brackets, which is a way to say that agreement has yet to be reached, but still allow the draft to get subcommittee approval, signaling there will be further discussion of that element in the full committee markup.

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.