With the clock ticking on the renewal of the satellite compulsory license provisions in the STELAR law, as well as the opportunity to use it for retransmission consent reform, ACA Connects has joined with other groups representing smaller operators to push for a provision boosting the negotiating leverage of the National Cable Television Cooperative.
That came in a letter with to the chairs and ranking members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and Senate Commerce Committee, who share principal oversight of the STELAR law renewal with their respective Judiciary Committees.
STELAR is the latest name for the bill/law that dates from 1988 and that established the compulsory license that allows satellite operators to import distant network TV station signals into local markets where viewers lack access to them.
NCTC collectively represents "hundreds" of smaller operators in programming negotiations, including broadcast stations, but is not currently covered by the FCC's requirement that those negotiations be conducted in good faith, as they must be with individual MVPDs.
"[T]he FCC estimates that smaller video providers pay at least one third more than their larger counterparts for the carriage of broadcast stations under the retransmission consent regime," they told the legislators. "We write to urge Congress to help address this “rural TV surcharge” when it renews expiring satellite television legislation by providing buying groups used by smaller providers access to the same good faith protections afforded to large providers."
Signing on to the letter in addition to ACA were ITTA – the Voice of America’s Broadband Providers, NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and WTA – Advocates for Rural Broadband.
Senate Commerce is scheduled to hold a hearing on the STELAR renewal Oct. 23.