Senate Panel Passes Key Sat TV Legislation


SatelliteGuys Pro
Original poster
Dec 30, 2003
Sorry if this is a repost, I haven't been on as much lately, but saw this on another board (non sat related-but tv related). Am I late to the part?

Senate Panel Passes Key Sat TV Legislation

On Thursday, the Senate Commerce Committee marked up legislation that will allow satellite TV providers to deliver a network high-def feed to distant network customers and addresses the delivery of local TV to a two-dish solution.

The legislation, the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Rural Consumer Access to Digital Television Act, is sponsored by Sens. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). McCain also is chair of the Senate Commerce Committee. The bill would allow satellite TV providers to supply customers that cannot receive an over-the-air digital signal from the four major networks with a distant digital network signal by satellite.

"This bill is the result of hard work and compromise and has been approved in a bipartisan fashion," Ensign said. "Rural Americans are the true winners as a result, and I look forward to seeing this bill signed into law."

EchoStar praised the bill, saying it will encourage broadcasters to speed up the transition from analog to digital TV by making high-def available to consumers via satellite in areas local broadcasters do not reach. EchoStar also commended Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) for supporting the development and implementation of a digital white area model within a year, "and we hope the entire Congress will similarly embrace the committee's efforts to provide digital service to rural America," the company said.

And the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association was happy with passage of the bill. "It was critical that the Senate Commerce Committee pass this legislation and its work today is testimony of Congress' commitment to increase DBS' competitive capabilities and ability offer a choice for all Americans, especially those in rural areas," said SBCA President Richard DalBello.

The Digital Transition Coalition also commended the legislation. "Consumers throughout the nation, especially in rural America, are waiting to see the benefits of digital technology and Congress has taken an important step in making that a reality," the organization said in a statement.

The Ensign/McCain legislation also addresses the use of two dishes to receive local TV channels. EchoStar said it's disappointed with the 18-month timeframe the Senate Commerce Committee has presented for the switch from the two-dish solution to a single dish for reception of locals. However, "we believe the Senate has taken a far better approach than legislation passed by the House Commerce Committee," EchoStar said.

DirecTV also praised the committee for addressing "complex issues" contained in the legislation. "We remain concerned, however, about several provisions in the Senate draft, including resolving copyright issues with respect to the white area provision and the timeframe for ending the practice of relegating certain broadcasters to a second dish," the company said.

"We look forward to working with all the committees to ensure passage of this important legislation later this year," DirecTV said.

Reaction to the bill was mixed for the National Association of Broadcasters and its president, Edward Fritts.

"Our goal is to ensure consumer access to local television stations that provide news and lifeline information to local audiences," Fritts said. "We reject the notion that viewers might be better served by distant out-of-market stations. We applaud the bill's recognition that Echostar's discriminatory two-dish policy must end and look forward to working with Congress to complete the SHVIA reauthorization legislation."

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