House passes satellite TV law reauthorization bill
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to reauthorize a law allowing satellite providers such as Dish Network Corp and DirecTV to bring in TV signals from other markets when subscribers cannot pick up local stations.
The legislation to reauthorize the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act, or STELA, for another five years passed by a voice vote. The Senate is expected to vote on its version of a bill, to be reconciled with the House legislation, later this year.
The Senate Commerce Committee leaders have said they plan to introduce their legislation in September. It would have to be reconciled with a "clean" reauthorization of the satellite law advanced by the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year.
Both Republican and Democratic leaders on the committee said reauthorizing STELA, which expires at the end of 2014, would ensure that 1.5 million U.S. satellite TV subscribers would not lose access to important broadcast programming.
Tuesday's House bill, among other things, adds a provision to prohibit unaffiliated TV stations in one market from jointly negotiating retransmission fees with pay-TV providers and another to repeal the cable set-top box integration ban.
Broadcasters had pushed against limits to their joint negotiating ability. They had urged lawmakers to focus also on the pay-TV providers' own joint selling practices and use of STELA to bring in distant signals instead of strengthening local TV signals, to avoid paying higher retransmission fees.