Sources: Must-Buy Tier Language Dropped From STELA Proposal

According to sources, Republicans working on the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) have dropped the provision that would have removed the basic-tier placement requirement for retransmission consent stations—it was not clear whether it would also have applied to must-carry stations.

Republicans were said to have met about the legislation this morning, one result being the decision to drop that proposal, which had drawn heavy fire from broadcasters. The process is still in the early stages.

STELA is the legislation that gave satellite operators a blanket license to deliver distant affiliated network TV station signals. It also grants the FCC authority to require good faith bargaining in retrans negotiations. The FCC has an open docket on how to define/better define what that means.

An agreement was reached that would not be part of a draft. "We have not seen any text of a bill, but we are extremely encouraged by reports coming out of this meeting today,” said National Association of Broadcasters spokesman Dennis Wharton. “We are pleased that broadcasters all over the country weighed in on the issue. It was a great show of grass roots support from our local broadcasters."

Other provisions that would limit coordinated retrans, remove protections for sweeps programming, and end the FCC's ban on integrated set-tops were said to still be on the table at press time.

The House Communications Subcommittee has rescheduled its hearing on STELA for March 12.

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.