Senate Commerce Eyeing July Retrans Hearing: Sources

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According to sources, the Senate Commerce Committee is looking at holding a hearing in late July on retransmission consent and the sweeping communications deregulation bill backed by Sen. James DeMint (R-S.C.)

A committee spokesperson was checking at press time, but had no comment.

The bill is unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate as currently constituted, but DeMint is in line to be ranking member and perhaps chairman and some cable and satellite companies are said to have pushed for a hearing.

That bill is aimed at clearing out "decades-old" regs DeMint says represent the government inappropriately picking winners and losers.

The bill would:

* Repeal those provisions of the Communications Act that mandate the carriage and purchase of certain broadcast signals by cable operators, satellite providers, and their customers;
* Repeal the Communications Act's "retransmission consent" provisions and the Copyright Act's "compulsory license" provisions, thereby allowing negotiations for the carriage of broadcast stations to take place in the same deregulated environment as negotiations for carriage of non-broadcast channels such as Discovery, Food Network, and AMC; and
* Repeal ownership limitations imposed on local media operators, allowing businesses to evolve and adapt to today's dynamic communications market.

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