House STELA Compromise Bill To Be Introduced

House Energy & Commerce leadership Tuesday (Nov. 18) will introduce a bipartisan compromise version of the STELA Reauthorization (STELAR) Act that it says reflects bipartisan input from the Senate Commerce Committee, say sources familiar with the bill and a copy obtained by Multichannel News ( It includes some retrans-related provisions that likely won't sit well with broadcasters.

It combines elements of a House-passed bill and the STAVRA version that passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee ( in September, including retaining the elimination of the set-top integration ban--after one year--and giving broadcasters an extra six months to unwind joint sales agreements per an FCC decision earlier this year as well as preventing coordinated retrans among noncommonly owned same-market TV stations.

According to a committee source speaking on background, House E&C Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Communications subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and ranking member Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) together will introduce the new version of the bill that reauthorizes the compulsory satellite license to that 1.5 million people can continue to receive distant network TV station signals.

If some version the satellite reauthorization bill does not pass by the end of the year, that license expires, as does the FCC's ability to enforce good faith negotiations in retransmission consent negotiations.

The bill includes the following retrans reforms: Prohibits joint retransmission consent negotiations between noncommonly owned stations in a market;

requires the commission to review the definition of good faith negotiations; prohibits broadcasters from blocking the importation of significantly viewed signals their markets; eliminates the prohibition on MVPD's removing station signals during sweeps “sweeps”; and requires cable operators to report retrans payments in cable rates reports.

It also streamlines the process of regulatory relief for smaller cable operators, allows market modification to better reflect communities broadcasters and satellite operators serve.

A committee source said the idea is for the bill to go directly to the House floor for a vote, after which the Senate would have to vote on it.

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.