News

Congress Extends Satellite License

3/11/2010 9:37 AM Eastern

Washington — Satellite operators are good to
go, at least until March 28.

The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate on
Friday (March 5) approved an extension (H.R. 4691)
for the satellite license (as part of a package of extensions
that included health and unemployment
insurance benefits) as a stand-off ended with a recalcitrant
Senator.

The license lets satellite operators import distant
TV station signals to subscribers in markets where
they cannot get a viewable signal of their own. The
license expired Feb. 28, but Congress urged satellite
operators and the program suppliers who receive
payment to preserve the status quo, and Congress
would fix it later.

“Later” is the full license reauthorization bill that
is currently part of a jobs bill on the Senate floor (HR
4213).

House Communications Subcommittee chairman
Rick Boucher (D-Va.) claims bipartisan support
for that bill, so that when the Senate passes
it, he expects, the House can swiftly follow suit.
That would be a five-year reauthorization, he
said.

There had been some suggestion the satellite license
bill, which involved royalty collection and
payment, might have to shift to a 10-year renewal
for pay-as-you-go reasons.