Sen. Fischer Seeks Trucker Leverage on Local-Into-Local

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) wants to prohibit satellite companies from providing distant TV network signals to truckers and RVs and tailgaters until they provide local stations in all 210 markets.

That is according to an amendment to a Senate STELAR reauthorization bill, which was scheduled to be marked up in the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday (Nov. 13), but was pulled from consideration at the last minute. Actually, the amendment would apply only to DirecTV, which does not deliver local stations in a dozen of the smallest markets (Dish does).

The STELAR bill, which created the compulsory satellite license that allows for the importation of distant network signals, expires at the end of the year, so if it is to be reauthorized, a markup will have to be rescheduled soon.

But some independent networks are hoping that, if so, it will not be with the Fischer amendment.

In a letter to Fischer Tuesday (Nov. 12), RideTV, Revolt and Condista Networks asked her to reconsider her amendment, which they said would have the potential to "impair the ability independent programmers to gain carriage in an extraordinarily competitive video marketplace."

They said forcing that carriage would 1) limit the bandwidth available for independent networks and their "unique and diverse voices"; 2) potentially lower license fees for independent networks as AT&T boosted capital expenditures to reach the smaller markets; and 3) penalize RV users and truckers, who could cancels their subscription, with independent network sub counts the collateral damage.

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.