FCC STELA ruling opens shopping season for satellite providers

Black Friday came a little early for satellite operators looking for broadcast bargains. By codifying the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010 (better known as STELA), the FCC freed satellite providers to seek out and deliver out-of-market broadcast signals to households as long as those station are "significantly viewed" within the local market.

The likelihood that a satellite operator would replace an in-market station with a significantly viewed (SV) out-of-market duplicate seems remote--unless of course the satellite provider gets into one of those increasingly rancorous retransmission fights between local broadcasters and service providers; then it would make sense to keep carrying a network affiliate from another market.

It's not as if the FCC didn't foresee this possibility; it even acknowledged that the ruling "may affect retransmission consent negotiations in some situations." Still, the agency, which was following up on legislation passed last spring, concluded "this is the best interpretation of the statutory language because it ensures that the overall intent of the statutory provisions to promote SV carriage is carried out."

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