House Extends Satellite License For 60 Days

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The House has punted on the satellite bill until January. A 60-day extension of the satellite distant signal license was included in the Department of Defense reauthorization bill that passed Dec. 16 in the House (the vote was 395-34).

The license allows satellite operators to deliver distant network affiliated TV station signals to viewers who cannot get a viewable signal of their local affiliate. It would have expired Dec. 31 without the extension after a reauthorization bill failed to gain consensus.

That gives legislators until March 1 to come up with a standalone bill, if the Senate follows suit and passes the Defense bill. It is on the calendar for Dec. 17.

That also means the cable industry will have to wait until then to get relief from paying a copyright fee for so-called phantom signals that their customers don't receive. That had been fixed in the standalone House bill and Senate versions.

The standalone bill was blocked in the Senate, according to sources, by at least one senator unhappy with the deal letting DISH back into the distant-network signal business in exchange for delivering local TV stations in all 210 markets.

The House is now in recess until Jan. 12, with the Senate trying to wrap up its legislative session as well.

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