It looks like satellite and cable operators -- and everybody else -- will have to wait until the weekend to find out the status of the license to deliver distant network-affiliated TV station signals into markets across the country.
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has scheduled a vote for 7:30 a.m. on Saturday on the defense appropriations bill (HR 3326) to which has been appended a stop-gap measure to extend that satellite license for 60 days past its Dec. 31 expiration date.'
That's because legislators could not agree on reauthorizing the full Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act (SHVERA) in time to make the Dec. 31 sunset date. The main sticking point appears to be a deal that would allow DISH Network back into the distant-signal business in exchange for delivering local TV stations signals into every market in the country (the smallest markets are uneconomical to serve).
The Senate voted early Friday morning (as in 1:30 a.m.) to invoke cloture (cut off debate) on the defense bill and move to a vote.
According to Reid's office, 7:30 Saturday was the soonest the vote could be held due to Senate rules, unless Republicans helped by yielding back time, which she said was highly unlikely.