It looks like it may already be time to start thinking about what to call the latest satellite compulsory license reauthorization legislation already being talked up inside the Beltway by the National Association of Broadcasters, even though broadcasters would be just as happy with no new name: NAB wants the license to expire.
The current license, which allows satellite operators to import distant TV-network signals for a blanket fee, rather than having to negotiate for retransmission consent, must be extended by the end of 2019 or it goes away (having a five-year sunset).
Broadcasters have fired an early warning shot across the bow at pay TV providers, saying that the law was passed 30 years ago to help small satellite operators compete with big cable monopolies, but DirecTV parent AT&T and Dish Network are multibillion-dollar companies with no excuse for getting the compulsory license price break.
Satellite and cable-operator members of the American Television Alliance (ATVA) responded by saying: “If Congress fails to reauthorize STELAR, hundreds of thousands of consumers, mostly in rural areas, would lose their broadcast channels from satellite. Congress should not only reauthorize STELAR so rural America can continue receiving all their broadcast channels, but also modernize the retransmission-consent rules.”
There will be plenty of time to get into the serious details and policy issues. For now, The Wire wants to focus on a more pressing issue: What should the new law be called?
The current moniker is STELAR, for the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization Act. The cosmic-sounding name was a good choice, given that the law deals with satellites hovering high above the earth and probably sometimes mistaken for stars. It was the second star-related name, though, and merely a modification of the earlier title, so it is time for some creative new acronymical thinking.
At one time or another, the legislation, as a bill or a draft, has been called: SHVA (the Satellite Home Viewer Act), SHVIA (the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act), SHVERA (the Satellite Home Viewer Extension & Reauthorization Act), SHVURA (the Satellite Home Viewer Update and Reauthorization Act), the vowel-challenged SHVDTA (the Satellite Home Viewer Digital Television Act), STELA (the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act) and now STELAR.
Should cable operators want to brand the bill with their goal of revamping retransmission consent, how about STARLITE (the Satellite Television Act Reauthorization to Lower Imbalances in Television Expenses)?