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Senate Slates STELAR Hearing

Confirming a report in B&C, the Senate Commerce Committee has announced a hearing on the satellite compulsory license for Oct. 23.

“The Reauthorization of STELAR” hearing begins at 10 a.m.

STELAR is the latest name for the bill/law that dates from 1988 and that established the compulsory license that allows satellite operators to import distant network TV station signals into local markets where viewers lack access to them for a variety of reasons.

Related: Copyright Office Says to Let STELAR Expire

"This hearing will examine policy considerations for reauthorizing the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELAR) before the law expires at the end of the year and how to ensure Americans living beyond the reach of a broadcast signal maintain access to local programming," the committee said in announcing the hearing. "In addition, witnesses will discuss the effectiveness of STELAR’s good faith requirement and other targeted video marketplace reforms Congress should consider in the next STELAR reauthorization."

Witnesses scheduled to testify are Emily Barr, president, The Graham Media Group and chairwoman, Television Board, National Association of Broadcasters; Denny Law, CEO and GM, Golden West Telecommunications; Robert Thun, SVP of content and programming, AT&T; J.C. Watts, chairman and co-founder, The Black News Channel.

There aren't many legislative days left to hold hearings in the relevant committees of jurisdiction--House and Senate Commerce and Judiciary--and figure out whether the license expires, as broadcasters want, is extended, as cable operators want and, if it is extended, whether it will be a vehicle for changes to the retransmission consent regime. Expiration is unlikely, as are big changes to retrans, essentially the extremes of the broadcast and cable positions, respectively.