Texas Rep. to Hill: Sunset STELAR Act

A 'Cloud' has passed between satellite operators and their effort to get a permanent compulsory license to deliver TV station signals.

Broadcasters have an ally in Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Tex.) in their effort to get Congress to sunset the satellite compulsory license-authorizing legislation (the STELAR Act), which comes up for its five-year renewal--or not--at the end of the year.

Cloud made that point in a letter Thursday (May 2) to the chairs and ranking members of the House Energy & Commerce and Judiciary Committee, which share jurisdiction over the issue.

The license allows satellite operators to deliver distant network affiliate signals to markets where they don't deliver a local version of those stations, either for business reasons or because it is a gerrymandered market or because the market lacks that affiliate.

Related: Judiciary Seeks STELAR Act Info from DBS

They say all politics is local, and Cloud has reason for weighing in. Victoria, Texas, which is in his district, is one of the dozen markets to which DirecTV does not deliver local stations. Unlike cable operators, satellite operators are not required to deliver any local TV stations in a market, though if they do, they must deliver all the stations in that market.

Dish delivers stations to all 212 markets.

Cloud said his constituents are being hurt by the reauthorization of the license, which he said excludes his residents from important local news and weather while giving multi-billion-dollar satellite companies the ability to import distant signals from New York or L.A.

The goal of the license was to give satellite operators a shot at competing with cable monopolies, he said, but ATAT-owned DirecTV no longer needs that subsidy, he said.

The National Association of Broadcasters is pushing for a sunset to the license. Satellite operators not only want a renewal, but in perpetuity.

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.