STELA compromise boosts satellite providers, impacts broadcaster JSAs

A satellite TV bill approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee would give broadcasters until 2016 to undo joint sales agreements (JSAs) while relaxing some restrictions on satellite providers Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) and DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) when they try to bring in TV signals from other markets for subscribers who cannot get local stations due to retransmission disputes.

The revised Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) included a compromise that gives broadcasters a little breathing room to disband JSAs that had been used for joint negotiations with pay TV service providers. The FCC banned these JSAs effective March 31, but compromise language allows broadcasters that apply for a waiver from the FCC to keep their sharing agreements intact for 18 months or until Dec. 21, 2016, whichever is later.

Broadcast-centric publication TVNewscheck pointed out that broadcasters could get their backs up if the pay-TV industry continues to lobby for still more retransmission reforms.

"As it pertains to STELA, NAB prefers no bill to a harmful bill," Marci Burdic, NAB TV board chair and senior vice president of Schnurz Communications said in testimony before a House Judiciary subcommittee, prior to the House Energy and Commerce Committee vote on STELA.

"The pay TV industry is lobbying for 'reforms' that would undermine local broadcasters' right to be fairly compensated for programming. The committee should reject these proposals," she said.

The American Cable Association was among the more vocal members of the pay TV industry reacting to the STELA changes--and lobbying for retransmission reforms.

"ACA believes that the rules governing the retransmission consent marketplace need a major overhaul, and we're very pleased to support the Committee's STELA compromise bill that moves in the right direction regarding reform of the 22-year-old rules, which in no way reflect today's market conditions," ACA President-CEO Matt Polka said in an organization press release.

For more:
- TVNewscheck has this story
- Reuters has this story
- see this ACA press release

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