Eshoo Statement on STELAR Compromise

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, submitted the following statement for the record on the House floor regarding a compromise with the Senate Commerce Committee on the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2014:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 5728, the STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014.

“Nearly four months ago, the House passed legislation to reauthorize the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010 (STELA). The language before the House today reflects a compromise reached with the leadership of the Senate Commerce Committee and paves the way for an extension of STELA prior to the expiration of the statute on December 31, 2014.

“Like the bill passed by voice vote in July, H.R. 5728 reauthorizes STELA for a period of five years, ensuring that approximately 1.5 million satellite subscribers can continue accessing broadcast television signals. Reflecting my belief that our video laws are outdated and in some cases are even being abused, H.R. 5728 requires the FCC to re-examine its ‘good faith’ rules to ensure retransmission consent negotiations are conducted fairly and in a timely manner.

“To better understand how retransmission consent fees impact a consumer’s monthly bill, H.R. 5728 requires the FCC to include aggregate data as part of its annual report on cable rates. This provision will bring about much needed transparency because retransmission consent fees are estimated to rise from $4.3 billion this year to an estimated whopping $5.1 billion in 2015.

“H.R. 5728 also includes a provision I strongly supported during committee debate to ensure broadcasters cannot team up against pay-TV providers for leverage during retransmission consent negotiations. This is an important step toward rebalancing the playing field and ultimately protecting consumers from unacceptable blackouts and increased rates.

“Finally, H.R. 5728 improves on language included in the bill adopted in July by delaying repeal of the cable set-top box ‘integration ban’ by one year and establishing a stakeholder working group tasked with developing a successor solution. Importantly, this provision does not negate a cable operator’s obligation to promote the competitive availability of set-top boxes under Section 629 of the Communications Act. While I continue to believe repeal of the ban should be conditioned on an industry-wide adoption of a successor to the CableCARD, this is a compromise I support. With an eye to the future, we can fulfill a goal I set out to achieve nearly 20 years ago and that is to give consumers an alternative to having to rent a set-top box from their local cable company every month.

“For all these reasons, I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting H.R. 5728.”

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