DISH, DirecTV licenses set to expire due to hold-ups in the upper chamber

Rural viewers who rely on DISH and DirecTV for their satellite TV service may be missing a few of their favorite channels come Monday morning.

The companies' licenses to deliver distant network affiliate TV signals to viewers will expire at midnight on Sunday. A measure to extend the licenses was part of a proposal to extend unemployment benefits and other expiring tax provisions.

ADVERTISEMENT
But the extenders package has been held up in the Senate, leaving the satellite licenses to expire along with unemployment insurance, which also expires Sunday night.

Congress has called on DISH and DirecTV to continue to carry distant signals to customers even after their licenses expire.

The satellite companies' licenses allow them to import distant TV network affiliates to viewers who can't receive their local affiliates through broadcast or cable service.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) and ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) sent a letter to the companies asking them to "temporarily maintain the status quo in such an event in order to avoid disrupting the provision of 'lifeline' network programming to hundreds of thousands of Americans."

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) and ranking member Lamar Smith (R-Texas) also signed onto the letter.

The DISH and DirecTV licenses were to be extended until March 28 to allow more time for a long-term reauthorization to make it through Congress. That reauthorization was part of a previous version of the jobs bill that ended up being scrapped.