Sources: Stars Aligning for Hill STELAR Act Hearing Kick-offs

The initial Hill hearings focused on the renewal of the satellite compulsory license will begin the week after Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess.

According to multiple sources, both the House Energy & Commerce Committee Communications Subcommittee and the Senate Commerce Committee (either full committee or subcommittee) will hold hearings on STELAR reauthorization--one source said the expectation is the House will go first June 4 and the Senate follow June 5 with a similar, and perhaps the same, witness lineup.

Related: Texas Rep to Hill: Sunset STELAR Act

That would be witnesses from a satellite company, cable company and a broadcaster.

The STELAR (Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization) Act is the legislation that provides for a blanket license for satellite companies. The license allows those 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

Broadcasters want the law to sunset; satellite operators want the law to be renewed in perpetuity and cable operators want to use it as a way to achieve more retrans must-carry reforms, like mandatory arbitration during impasses and a ban on blackouts.

The House hearing is more explicitly a toes in the STELAR waters, while the Senate hearing is said to be branded more generally as the "future of video," but will also be the STELAR kickoff on that side of the Hill. 

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.