The House passed legislation (H.R. 4572) on July 22 reauthorizing satellite TV operators to provide broadcast network stations to about 1.5 million “unserved” and mainly rural households, including those living in apartment communities. Federal law determines whether satellite providers like DIRECTV and the DISH Network may offer broadcast network programming. The current satellite TV license is set to expire on December 31.
For the most part, satellite providers can offer local channels within local markets. The reauthorization bill also impacts “distant” broadcast network channels that may be offered only to certain customers without “over-the-air” access to their local channels.
This is the latest in a series of legislative and regulatory developments addressing telecommunications and media issues with possible implications for apartment owners and residents. Other issues include a potential rewrite of the Communications Act, net neutrality, and proposed mega-mergers among major providers.
In the Senate, the Commerce Committee is expected to consider satellite TV legislation in September, and the Judiciary Committee passed a reauthorization bill earlier this year. The outlook is unclear, however, because some lawmakers support expanding the law’s scope beyond a straightforward reauthorization. For example, Commerce Committee Chairman Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., is pledging to use the reauthorization bill to address online video content services like Netflix.
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