House to vote on TV bill next week

The House will vote on a bill to ensure that satellite subscribers continue to have access to certain broadcast programming.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced Friday that its bill to reauthorize the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA), which governs the satellite television marketplace and is set to expire at the end of the year.

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“This must-pass legislation is the product of strong bipartisan work within both the Energy and Commerce and Judiciary Committees and we look forward to its consideration by the full House next week,” Reps. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said in a joint statement.

Upton and Walden are the chairmen of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the subcommittee on Communications, respectively.

The House Judiciary Committee passed its part of the STELA reauthorization bill earlier this month, while the Energy and Commerce Committee passed its bill in May.

Bipartisan negotiations in the Commerce Committee and subcommittee on Communications centered on how broad the bill should be.

Democrats and some Republicans pushed for a bill that would make sweeping reforms to the video marketplace rather than a “clean” reauthorization.

The bill that passed committee would make some reforms to the video marketplace, including keeping broadcasters from jointly negotiating with cable and satellite companies for compensation and eliminating a federal requirement for specific security equipment to be installed in cable boxes.

Additionally, the bill gives broadcasters more time to unwind resource sharing agreements that were effectively banned by the Federal Communications Commission earlier this year.

“The legislation makes targeted reforms to the video marketplace while ensuring that satellite service continues for those who rely on it as their best option to receive broadcast and other programming,” Walden and Upton said in their statement. 

The two encouraged the Senate to “follow the House's lead and swiftly approve [the bill] to ensure millions of Americans will continue to enjoy their programming uninterrupted.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee has already moved its bill, leaving the Senate Commerce Committee as the final committee of the four to move on its STELA reauthorization package.

While Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) has expressed interest in broader reforms to the video marketplace, Committee ranking member Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said last week that he expects a bill “closer to the path of least resistance.”

Rockefeller and Thune are currently working on their bill and announced this week that they would be considering the legislation in September.

“We look forward to continuing the productive bipartisan work of the committee and collaborating with our fellow members,” the pair said in a statement. 

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