US ‘distant’ satellite signal licences under threat

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The new head of the US Copyright Office, Register of Copyrights, Karyn Temple says that the permitted use of ‘distant’ TV network signals free of charge has outlived its usefulness and needs to be scrapped.

The legislation (the STELAR Act, Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization) expires at the end of this year. In essence, the Act allows satellite operators to supply distant network affiliated signals to those markets where there isn’t a local version of that network.

Speaking before the House Judiciary Oversight hearing, Temple argued that it was time that satellite operators and broadcasters negotiated that usage. By and large, broadcasters want the Act to die, while satellite operators want the Act to be renewed in perpetuity.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) last year published a policy documents arguing for the Act to be scrubbed at the end of this year. It is estimated that about 500,000 US homes tap into these ‘imported’ signals.


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