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Satellite TV Hearing Creates Controversy in Congress

Feb 24, 2009  •  Post A Comment

It didn’t take long for Congress’ first attempt to open discussion of reauthorizing the nation’s satellite TV law to turn into a donnybrook between broadcasters and satellite companies over TV station carriage and compensation issues.
In the first of three congressional hearings this week, satellite industry execs called for a rewrite of the law to ease their ability to bring in major-network stations in markets without all major networks, to end any need for them to air stations that rebroadcast national shopping or religious channels without any local content and to bring in stations with state news content that are outside Nielsen’s Designated Market Areas. They also suggested the system for compensation payments may need changing.
“As TV evolves, some things no longer make sense,” Charles Ergen, chairman of Dish Network, told a panel of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. He said the current requirements don’t make sense to consumers.
Mr. Ergen also warned that Dish Network was being “held hostage” in local retransmission rate fights and urged Congress to either make retransmission “free” or establish “a national retransmission rate.”
His views were echoed by Bob Gabrielli, senior VP of DirecTV.
Meanwhile, Martin D. Franks, executive VP of CBS, said the original Satellite Home Viewer Act had resulted in a “robust” marketplace and urged Congress not to make major changes to the existing law.
“The legislative issue on the table today is really a very narrow one,” Mr. Franks said. “It is whether to extend satellite [systems’] compulsory distant signal license once again. Yet during the course of congressional debate over the signal license, you will hear different parties seeing to exploit this consideration for a laundry list of unrelated items, changes to retransmission consent.
“Besides complicating the legislative process, issues of retransmission and DMA modifications are not broken and do not need fixing,” he said.
The current law for satellite broadcasting expires this year, forcing congressional action. Both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees have hearings on the law scheduled for tomorrow.

9 Comments

  1. act!,laws!,signal license!networks satellite are used for thing that the gov should not let them do! like “Std” ‘satellite,talk,direct’&”SHD” satellite,hearing,device. wich give our locel tv channel the way to brake pivicy act.they can just look in our house and see or hear what ever they want.im the one!

  2. abc,cbs, nbc, fox,and all broadcasting network is me! its war! pay up! AND all you govs im comming. FCC your a F-ing JOKE!!!!!!

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