Stupak Proposes Satellite Consumers' Right to Local Channels Act

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) has proposed requiring satellite companies to carry all local TV station signals in all markets.

Currently, cable operators are under a carry one, carry all requirement, which means they must carry all local TV stations in any markets where they elect to carry any of them.

Stupak, a member of the House Communications, Technology & Internet Subcommittee, has introduced H.R. 927, the Satellite Consumers’ Right to Local Channels Act, which he says would insure rural markets, which boast a large percentage of satellite homes, have access to their local TV stations via satellite.

Stupak pointed out that currently there are 31 markets--out of 210 TV markets nationwide--where neither DirecTV nor Dish carry local stations.
He also pointed out that two of those 31 markets, Alpena and Marquette, are in his district.

“Without their local channels, millions of rural Americans are denied access to critical emergency alerts and local content such as sporting events and news broadcasts.”

"We support Congressman Stupaks's effort and look foward to working with them," said National Association of Broadcasters spokesman Dennis Wharton.

The bill would give satellite operators one year from passage to serve all markets.

DirecTV, for one, said it did deliver local stations in every market, one way or another, and said it wasn’t looking forward to a government mandated move that would cost big bucks in a shrinking economy.

“DirecTV offers local service in all 210 markets, either through our satellites, where we serve 95 percent of U.S. TV households, or by seamlessly integrating local channels in our programming guide through over-the-air digital tuners in our set top boxes,” said DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer.” Though we plan to continue to launch additional local channel markets, the proposed legislation to force DIRECTV to spend an enormous amount of money with little or no return on that investment in these challenging economic times is most troubling.“

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.