House Energy & Commerce Has STELAR Witness Lineup

The House Energy & Commerce Committee Communications Subcommittee, in its hearing on the STELAR Act satellite license renewal June 4, will only hear from one of the two association chiefs that will be weighing in the day after in a Senate Commerce hearing on that and other video issues.

The STELAR Act, which must be renewed by the end of the year or it sunsets, allows satellite carriers to pay a blanket license fee to import distant network TV stations into local markets.

According to the witness list for the House hearing, National Association of Broadcasters president Gordon Smith will testify, but not NCTA-The Internet & Television Association president Michael Powell, who will join Smith at the witness table in the Senate Commerce Committee

Related: NAB Launches Fight Against STELAR Renewal

Cable operators have a rooting interest in the issue since STELAR could be a vehicle for adjusting retrans and must-carry rules more to their liking, but broadcasters and DBS operators are the principal players.

Joining Smith in the STELAR House hearing will be Robert D. Thun, SVP at AT&T Mobility and Entertainment; Patricia Jo Boyers, president of BOYCOM Vision; and John Bergmayer, senior counsel, Public Knowledge.

Related: Democratic Rep Raps STELAR Renewal

One of the House Democrats' issues with STELAR, as it is with broadcasters, is the fact that AT&T-owned DirecTV does not deliver local TV station signals to a dozen of the smallest markets, but instead uses the license to import distant signals.

Broadcasters want the license to go away and satellite operators--in this case DirecTV--to have to negotiate individually for the station signals, or preferably to deliver local signals to all markets. Unlike cable operators, who have to carry any local TV station that requests it, satellite operators don't have to carry local station signals, though if they carry any station in a market they must carry them all.

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.