Satellite operators are good to go, at least until March 28.
Both the House and Senate were able to approve an extension (H.R. 4691) for the satellite license -- as part of a package of extensions that included health and unemployment insurance benefits -- ending a stand-off with a recalcitrant member of the upper chamber, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.).
The license allows satellite operators to import distant TV station signals to subs 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.) says there is 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 told Multichannel News. 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-go reasons.