On the heels of the president's signing of STELA, the satellite license reauthorization bill, into law Thursday, Dish Network announced it would launch local channels in the 29 markets sill lacking satellite carriage of their local TV station signals. That means the No. 2 DBS provider will be delivering local stations to every market in the country.
Dish agreed to do that as part of a deal in the bill that allows it to get back into the distant TV station signal importation business.
"I want to commend the leadership of Dish Network for making this commitment. Millions of homes in America's most rural regions will be the beneficiaries," said Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), who was a key legislative driver of the bill.
The Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act , which has had lengthy and bumpy trip to passage, is a five-year reauthorization of the blanket license that allows satellite companies to import distant affiliated TV station signals to subscribers in markets where they cannot receive a comparable viewable signal. The bill passed May 12 after months of delays and extensions, many over unrelated matters.
"We're pleased that the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010 is now law," said National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Kyle McSlarrow in a statement. "This five-year extension provides certainty that will enable the multichannel video marketplace to keep investing, innovating and delivering the robust services that 100 million American consumers enjoy."
DirecTV issued the following statement: "On behalf of the millions of Americans who rely on satellite television, DIRECTV applauds President Obama and Congress for enacting into law the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act. By maintaining a focus on the needs of satellite customers, the new law ensures uninterrupted network programming, particularly for those living in rural America."
The reauthorization also resolves the so-called phantom-signal issue, in which cable operators have to calculate royalty payments on systems serving contiguous communities as though all of the subs in both were receiving the same distant signals.
The new markets getting satellite access to local stations are Alpena, Mich.; Biloxi, Miss.; Binghamton, N.Y.; Bluefield, W.Va.; Bowling Green, Ky.; Columbus, Ga.; Elmira, N.Y.; Eureka, Calif.; Glendive, Mont.; Greenwood, Miss.; Harrisonburg, Va.; Hattiesburg, Miss.; Jackson, Tenn.; Jonesboro, Ark.; Lafayette, Ind.; Lake Charles, La.; Mankato, Minn.; North Platte, Neb.; Ottumwa, Iowa; Parkersburg, W.Va.; Presque Isle, Maine.; Salisbury, Md.; Springfield, Mass.; St. Joseph, Mo.; Utica, N.Y.; Victoria, Texas; Watertown, N.Y.; Wheeling, W.Va.; and Zanesville, Ohio.