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Senate Fails To Pass Satellite License Bill Extension

The Senate Thursday (Feb. 25) failed to pass by unanimous consent a package of bill extensions including the 30-day extension for the satellite blanket license bill, which would extend that license another five years.

If a bill or extension does not pass by Feb. 28, the license expires and satellite operators will not be allowed to import distant affiliate TV station signals to viewers who cannot receive a viewable version of their local affiliate.

The House passed the package by unanimous consent Thursday, according to a source, but a single Senator, Republican Jim Bunning of Kentucky, blocked an attempted vote in the Senate Thursday night, a spokesperson for the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmed.

His opposition was not to the satellite bill, but to provisions related to unemployment insurance extensions in the package.

The license had already gotten a 60-day extension to Feb. 28 after STELA (the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act) failed to get a vote in the Senate, reportedly blocked by Republicans unhappy with a provision to allow DISH network back into the distant-signal business, from which it has been foreclosed by court order.

A call to the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) went unanswered.