Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Sen. John Thune (R-SD)

Following efforts from television broadcasters across the country, “Local Choice”, along with other potentially harmful amendments to the Satellite Television Access and Viewer Rights Act (STAVRA) were removed or modified during a Senate Commerce Committee mark up session on September 17th.

The bill, largely thought to be “must pass” legislation for satellite providers that allows satellite pay subscribers to import distant broadcast signals, included a “Local Choice” amendment that would have caused broadcasters to be a la carte options for viewers starting in 2017. Broadcasters argued that local choice wouldn’t lower cable bills or satisfy the consumer’s desire for meaningful choice in television programming, would decimate the broadcast television model that consumers value and therefore decrease broadcast stations ability to provide local news, weather, entertainment and emergency information.

Also removed from the bill was language that would allow the FCC to seek information from broadcasters and MVPDs (multi-channel programming distributors) to determine if either party committed violations of the FCC’s good faith negotiating rules. Broadcasters also saw language that would see the FCC considering the blocking of online content as a possible violation of “good faith rules.”

The fairly clean STAVRA bill was passed unanimously out of the Commerce Committee which includes Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey. The Massachusetts Broadcasters Association, along with the other 49 State Broadcasters Association and the NAB will continue to monitor the progress of STAVRA and other important legislation for broadcasters. Stay tuned to our website, Facebook page and Twitter feed for updates!