/// Retrans Reform Advocates Pin Hopes On Satellite Bill

September 5, 2013  |  Media Week

Retransmission reform advocates think they've got an opening to convince Congress it's time to change the law that leads to blackouts like the one between CBS and Time Warner Cable that left more than 3 million Time Warner Cable subscribers outside the CBS dome. Their big hope? Getting retransmission consent reform language attached to the reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA). Since the law expires at the end of next year unless Congress does something, retrans reform advocates can take advantage of the debate to make the argument that it's the perfect opportunity to address retransmission consent law, whether it's forced arbitration, prohibiting blackouts, or some other measure. A 25-year-old law, STELA allows satellite TV companies like Dish and DirecTV to retransmit in a local market a network TV signal from outside the subscribers' market if a local signal isn't available. Because it deals with carriage of local signals, retrans reform advocates see the STELA debate as a perfect bill to attach retransmission reform. “Getting retrans reform as part of STELA is our main focus,” said Stanton Dodge, Dish's general counsel. Dodge and other retrans reform advocates that are part of the American Television Alliance know that without STELA, it could be a lot harder to build support in Congress. “Right now it's our only chance because it's the only piece of legislation that deals with broadcast carriage, is moving and has to be acted on,” said Matt Polka, president and CEO of the American Cable Association representing smaller cable companies. “It's not the only opportunity, but other opportunities will take more work.” Retrans reform advocates will get a good shot at making their case stronger next week during two House subcommittee hearings called to address the issues around STELA

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Retrans Reform Advocates Pin Hopes On Satellite Bill

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