President Obama signed off on a bill Thursday that will assure that 1 million satellite TV subscribers in rural areas will continue to have access to the major broadcast networks after Dec. 31.
Official passage of the Satellite Television Extension Act Reauthorization (STELAR) also ends the Federal Communications Commission's ban on cable set-top boxes with integrated security features, the so-called CableCARD law. Enacted in 2007, the rule never achieved its goal of creating a robust retail market for pay-TV set-tops, and it was unpopular among pay-TV operators.
As signed, the bill also renews the FCC's authority to enforce good-faith negotiations between broadcasters and pay-TV operators on retransmission deals. It restricts stations with different owners from conducting coordinated retrans deals.
At its core, STELAR allows satellite-based pay-TV operators to pull a distant broadcast signal from another market if a local affiliate for a specific network isn't available.
Cable companies, however, were pleased with the other stuff that made it onto the bill.
"CenturyLink applauds Congress and the President for reauthorizing legislation that will increase investment, innovation, competition and consumer choice in the pay-TV market," said VP for federal legislative affairs David Bartlett, in a statement obtained by Multichannel News. "STELAR goes a long way toward making retransmission consent negotiations more fair and balanced, and creates a more competitive pay-TV market for providers and consumers alike, but more video reform is needed."
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