STELA Markup Held Over

The Senate's markup of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act will have to wait for another day, likely sometime next week.

It was scheduled to be marked up today (June 19), but was held over at the request of a Republican, according to a committee spokesperson. Not only can one senator hold up a nomination, but according to committee rules, a single Senator can ask that business, in this case a bill markup, be held over by one week.

The Senate bill (S. 2454) was introduced last week as a simple (two-page) straight, five-year, reauthorization of the law, which expires at the end of the year unless it is renewed, though it is unlikely to remain in that condition if past is prologue.

STELA renews the compulsory license that allows satellite operators to deliver distant network TV station signals to viewers who can't get local versions over the air and renews the FCC's authority to enforce good faith retransmission consent negotiations.

The law must be renewed by the end of the year or it expires, so it is the kind of must-pass legislation that can be a vehicle for other communications-related reforms.

Cable ops, for example, want Congress to address retrans reforms in STELA, and were successful in getting some of what they wanted in a House version that passed the Energy & Commerce Committee, including preventing coordinated retrans among co-owned stations in a market. Broadcasters would like to see that version stripped down to match the Senate version.

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.