Their “Local Choice” plan would, in effect, let cable and satellite customers order TV stations on an a la carte basis, paying the stations’ price, thereby eliminating the retrans negotiation process.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller and Ranking Member John Thune on Friday announced a proposal called “Local Choice” they want to attach to the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) reauthorization bill.
The move is designed to end TV station blackouts and retransmission consent negotiations by letting subscribers decide if they want to pay the price stations would set for their signals.
The NAB was not ready to embrace the proposal. “While NAB appreciates Chairman Rockefeller and Ranking Member Thune’s careful consideration of video programming laws, this proposal represents a significant rewrite of the Communications Act,” said NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton. “Given the shortness of time between now and the end of the congressional session, we question whether there is sufficient time for key committees in Congress to give this proposal the thorough review that is warranted.
“NAB has always supported a clean reauthorization of STELA and we do not believe this bill is an appropriate vehicle for reviewing the retransmission consent process.”
But American Cable Association CEO Matthew M. Polka endorsed it: “ACA believes that Sen. Rockefeller and Sen. Thune, acting in a bipartisan fashion on an important consumer welfare issue, deserve the highest praise for offering a legislative proposal designed to advance the public interest in the receipt of over-the-air local broadcast stations from pay-TV providers.
“The approach taken by Sens. Rockefeller and Thune is to put consumers first. It will permanently remove consumers from retransmission consent disputes and provide consumers with more choice in the selection of TV station programming than they have seen in decades.
“The independent cable community looks forward to giving Sens. Rockefeller and Thune feedback on their bold and necessary proposal to make it ready to become the law of the land this year.”