US ‘STELA’ Act still in limbo

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The Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA), which permits US satellite viewers to watch ‘distant’ TV broadcasts from the main networks, has to be renewed before the end of the year or it will automatically die (“sunset”, as legislators describe the ending of a Law).

Current estimates say that some 870,000 homes, almost all in rural areas, would lose some if not all of their network signals if the Act is allowed to expire.

Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, who Chairs the US Senate Judiciary Committee, in a November 1st letter made it clear that he was happy for the Act to die, and is seeking responses by November 12th. However, his thoughts are at odds with the Chairman of another House committee (Commerce), Roger Wicker, who wants to extend the Act at least for another year. He has a STELA Renewal Bill ready to be launched on November 13th.

Senator Wicker went on the record last week saying that the end the existing Act would be to put citizens – and his Mississippi constituents – on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Not helping matters is the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) which wants the Act to die.


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