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House To Vote On STELAR Satellite Bill Next Week

The House plans to vote next week on a House Energy & Commerce Committee version of satellite legislation that includes provisions preventing coordinated retransmission consent negotiations and other provisions pushed by cable operators.

That is according to the House Energy & Commerce Committee. The vote is planned for the suspension calendar, which means it will take a two-thirds majority to pass. But that happens on bipartisan bills when they are pretty sure they have the votes for passage.

The bill, co-authored by E&C chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Communications Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), full committee ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), and Subcommittee ranking member Anna Eshoo (D-Calif), is now called the STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4572), or STELAR (dropping the "A' in Act).

The bill:

•"Prohibits joint retransmission consent negotiations;

•"Provides broadcasters additional time to unwind business arrangements deemed no longer in the public interest by the FCC through its recent changes in how it calculates ownership interests under the media ownership rules;

•"Eliminates the 'sweeps' week prohibition on signal change; and

•"Eliminates the set-top box integration ban."

The bill passed the committee May 8. A Judiciary Committee version has also passed out of that committee "clean."

The bill, according to the committee, is backed by 21st Century Fox, ABC/Disney, the American Cable Association, the American Television Alliance, CBS, DirecTV & Dish Network, and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.

“Reauthorizing the nation’s satellite television law has been a goal shared by members throughout this committee and Congress. This must-pass legislation is the product of strong bipartisan work within both the Energy and Commerce and Judiciary Committees and we look forward to its consideration by the full House next week,” said Upton and Walden (pictured) in a joint statement. “The legislation makes targeted reforms to the video marketplace while ensuring that satellite service continues for those who rely on it as their best option to receive broadcast and other programming. We hope the Senate will follow the House's lead and swiftly approve H.R. 4572 to ensure millions of Americans will continue to enjoy their programming uninterrupted.”