Las Vegas -- A House subcommittee is expected to vote on controversial satellite legislation April 28 as part of a broader plan to send the bill to the Senate no later than the July 4 recess.
The House bill would give EchoStar Communications Corp. one year to stop the use of two dishes to receive all local TV signals in a market. The company claimed that the provision would force it to discontinue local TV service in 40 markets and drop plans to add another 40 this year.
"I expect [that the two-dish ban] will be part of the authorization bill," House Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said at the National Association of Broadcasters convention here Monday.
Upton said he had planned to mark up the bill -- a reauthorization of the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act of 1999 -- Thursday, but ongoing negotiations caused him to postpone action for one week.
House Judiciary Committee chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) indicated concern that "should a controversial bill leave the House," the Senate would block in it favor of a simpler bill that extended for five years the right of satellite carriers to provide distant-network signals to subscribers who can't receive the same programming from local network stations with off-air antennas.
Sensenbrenner added that Senate difficulty with the House SHVIA bill was to be expected.
“A lot of us in the House side feel that the Senate is the Committee on Legislative Constipation: Everything goes in, but nothing comes out,” Sensenbrenner cracked.
Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) expressed support for an uncomplicated bill, even though he supports efforts to curb the use of two dishes.
“I'd just like to see a straight, clean reauthorization from the Senate because I think that gives us our best possibilities,” Burns said.
House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas) -- who is working with Sensenbrenner's panel on the SHVIA bill -- expressed confidence that the House wouldn't have trouble passing a bill.
“There are not any major issues that are irreconcilable,” Barton said.