STELA! FCC Implements Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act

Following the passage by Congress earlier this year of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA, for short), the FCC adopted new rules to provide satellite subscribers with greater flexibility to receive certain television stations from other markets.

The FCC revised its rules to make it easier for satellite subscribers to receive a significantly viewed (SV) out-of-market station. Previously, satellite subscribers could receive an out-of-market SV station with the same network affiliation as the local in-market station only if the satellite subscribers received the local in-market network station. Now satellite subscribers need only receive the satellite carrier’s local-into-local service package.

These changes may tilt retransmission consent negotiations in favor of the satellite carriers, who could favor an out-of-market SV station to the in-market station based on the amount of retransmission consent fees that are negotiated. Many broadcasters have entered into agreements that provide for little or no compensation for out-of-market subscribers.

The FCC reasons that subscribers would prefer receiving the in-market station to the out-of-market SV station, that satellite carriers will negotiate in good faith with in-market stations, and that SV stations usually are available only in a portion of the market. Time will tell, but there is good reason to be skeptical. Satellite carriers will inevitably use SV stations as a substitute, instead of a supplement, to an in-market station if any disputes arise about compensation for retransmission consent. If this happens, broadcast localism goals of the FCC will be undermined and Congress may be called back to the table to clean up the mess.

The FCC must deliver to Congress a report on in-state broadcast programming by August 27, 2011. The FCC seeks comment and data from the public in preparing this report.


Comments (2)

Read through and enter the discussion by using the form at the end
Aaron Jones - April 11, 2011 10:10 PM

please make All tv stations available to everyone in the country even DNS locals East And West cost feeds of ABC,NBC,CBS,FOX,PBS,CW. PLEASE MAKE IT FAIR FOR EVERYONE.
AARON JONES A Direct tv customer.

Bill Pasco - July 25, 2011 1:26 PM

In April, 2011 I called Direct TV to reconnect my service which had been on seasonal shutdown. Service was resumed but did not include the distant networks which I have had since about 2001. I called & Direct TV told me I couldn't have them as local networks were available. Sounded good but they couldn't hook me up.

A technician was scheduled to troubleshoot. He arrived at 8AM on June 24, determined that my basic service was OK on satellite 101 but the local service on satellite 119 was blocked by trees, not on my property.

I applied, thru Direct TV, to the local networks for a waiver so I could purchase distant network service. This was denied by the local networks
I asked Direct TV to appeal their denial. I was told they couldn't do that but could reapply for the waiver which I have done.

I also checked my digital over the air TV reception with My location deep in the woods of the southern Berkshires, shows "There are no stations predicted to serve this location".

Last year I had distant network service as part of my basic package. This year, I have been trying since late April but, with STELA in place, I cannot get any network service.