House to Hold STELA Hearing Next Week

The House Communications Subcommittee will hold a hearing next week on the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA).

A Committee spokesman would not comment on whether a draft of new legislation would be ready by that time, but Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) has said he was aiming for a draft by the end of the first quarter, so the hearing would be a good opportunity to talk about such a draft.

Principally, STELA is the law that grants satellite operators a blanket license to deliver distant network-affiliated TV station signals to subscribers who can't get a viewable signal from their in-market affiliate. It also includes the renewal of the FCC's authority to mandate good-faith bargaining in retransmission consent negotiations.

Walden has signaled he wanted to keep STELA free of the rancorous retrans debate, saying: "I believe it's the wrong place to make changes to this legal regime," but renewing the good faith bargaining authority will likely provide retrans reformers some purchase on that debate in the bill.

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.