The amended draft legislation reauthorizing the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act is now moving to the full House Commerce committee after the tech subcmte’s unanimous approval. The parties compromised: Republicans agreed to put a provision that would undercut the FCC‘s effort to restrict JSAs, in brackets. That allows the subcmte to approve the draft bill without reaching an agreement, meaning the FCC is not off the hook yet as the full committee will take up the issue for further discussion. In fact, there’s even more pressure on the agency now to complete the Quadrennial Review. "I feel very strongly" about the provision that would direct the FCC to complete the Quadrennial Review before moving forward on media ownership issues, said Greg Walden (R-OH), sponsor of the draft and head of the subcmte. "I stand behind this legislation," he said. That said, placing the provision in brackets showed good faith, he said. While opposing the specific provision, ranking member Anne Eshoo (D-CA) agreed that the Commission needs to finish the review. The parties also compromised on the set-top box integration ban issue. Per Eshoo’s amendment, the bill now wouldn’t restrict the FCC from adopting an integration ban as part of a successor solution to CableCARDs. Additional amendments were submitted but withdrawn, although the issues could re-emerge during the Comm Act Update, such as Eshoo’s proposal to look at the practice of blocking online access to broadcast content during a retrans dispute. Citing CBS ‘ blocking of online access to Time Warner Cable broadband subs during their disputes, Eshoo said "as long as I am around, I will be talking about this [blocking online access]." Eshoo also fired shots at broadcasters over rising retrans fees. "It goes way over the top. Who’s picking up the tab? The consumers… This is not a sustainable business model…" she said. Meanwhile, Renee Ellmers (R-NC), urged sbmte members to look at DirecTV‘s dropping of INSP from its lineup last month. Steve Scalise (R-LA)’s amendment sought to restore a provision in the original draft aiming to get rid of the must-buy requirement on cable for the bcst basic tier. Peter Welch (D-VT) took up the issue of rising pay-TV rates again. ACA wasn’t thrilled about the passage as Section 3 of the bill passed would give the broadcasters a statutory right to coordinate retrans negotiations. NCTA, which counts both programmers and MVPDs as members, only mentioned integration ban in its response: "We are especially pleased that committee members have worked collaboratively to eliminate the FCC’s Integration Ban, an unnecessary rule that has increased significantly both the cost and energy consumption of cable leased set-top boxes while offering no consumer benefit." Senate Commerce is set for its own STELA hearing on April 1 while the judiciary committee’s hearing is scheduled for Wed. Witnesses include Alison Minea, sr counsel of regulatory affairs at DISH; Marci Burdick, svp of bcstg at Schurz Comm (she testified at the most recent House hearing); Ellen Stutzman, dir of research & public policy at Writers Guild of America; and John Bergmayer, sr staff attorney at Public Knowledge.

The Daily


FCC Chair Tees Up Apartment Broadband Competition Item

Cable has to contend with FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel circulating a proposal that would prevent providers from entering into exclusive revenue sharing agreements with building owners as part of changes aimed at bringing competition to MTEs.

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