Nov. 19 was set to be a wildly busy day for the House Energy & Commerce Committee. No less than 18 bills were on the docket for markup. To little surprise, the Democrats in charge were a bit ambitious with their goal, according to the Radio & Television Business Report.
As such, the full Committee markup reconvened Wednesday with H.R. 5035 — the “Television Viewer Protection Act” — last on the list of bills up for review. A bipartisan agreement has been reached, with revisions, and was passed unanimously by the Committee.
“There were a number of contentious issues to be addressed, but I pledged when the Subcommittee approved my bill that we would work with our colleagues to address their concerns before it was marked up in the full Committee, and I’m very pleased that we were able to fulfil that commitment,” said Mike Doyle, D-Pa., who introduced the bill in the lower body of Congress.
The deal also enables the Judiciary Committee to extend the distant signal license, which allows satellite TV providers to carry broadcast television content to nearly a million consumers. Doyle believes the House Judiciary Committee is working toward an agreement on this legislation.
“We were also able to come to agreement on important provisions related to billing transparency and the ability of small cable providers to negotiate together with large broadcast ownership groups,” Doyle added, calling the deal “a big win for consumers.”
It is Doyle’s hope that the act can move through the committee, the House, and the Senate and get signed into law before the current authorization expires at the end of the year.
The act as introduced by Doyle would amend the Communications Act of 1934 by extending expiring provisions relating to the retransmission of broadcast TV station signals.
Like the companion legislation up for discussion in the Senate, H.R. 5035 would extend STELAR (getting the new nomenclature of “STAR” in the Senate) for a five-year period, through Jan. 1, 2025.
Doyle’s legislation would also extend for five years the “good faith” negotiation provisions, while allowing for the importation of distant signals to unserved households as authorized under the statutory license in Section 119 of the Copyright Act.
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