Hatch Panel Set to Renew SHVIA

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Washington -- Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is
making plans to renew a law that gives rural direct-broadcast satellite
subscribers access to ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox network programming.

Under the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act, EchoStar Communications
Corp. and DirecTV Inc. have a copyright license to beam network signals from New
York and Los Angeles stations to satellite subscribers considered "unserved" by
their local network affiliates.

The distant-network-signal provision expires Dec. 31, 2004.

"We're going to try to get into those matters in the next month or so," Hatch
said Monday night after addressing state delegates of the National Association
of Broadcasters here.

When the law was renewed in 1999, the NAB and EchoStar were at loggerheads.
The trade group accused EchoStar of selling distant network signals to
subscribers who should have been viewing their local affiliates, but EchoStar
countered that the standard use for determining "unserved" households was
flawed.

And while the industries feuded, Hatch and Senate Commerce Committee chairman
John McCain (R-Ariz.) had their own power struggle over the shape of
legislation.

One option, Hatch said, is a simple five-year extension of the SHVIA, but
broadcasting sources indicated that they are looking to make some major changes
in the law.

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