The retrans reform proposal for a la carte channel selection is removed from the Satellite Television Access and Viewer Rights Act. NAB applauds the decision, saying: “NAB is thankful for the consideration Senate Commerce Committee members gave the 'Local Choice' proposal and for recognizing the unintended negative consequences this measure would have had on localism, broadcasters and our millions of viewers.”
‘Local Choice’ Gone From Senate STAVRA Bill
The “Local Choice” broadcast-only a la carte proposal has been removed from the Satellite Television Access and Viewer Rights Act (STAVRA) by the Senate Commerce Committee. The retrans reform provision was supported by the cable industry and opposed by broadcasters.
The proposal’s authors, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller and Ranking Member John Thune, issued this statement regarding Local Choice: “During the last month, Chairman Rockefeller and Ranking Member Thune have successfully begun a discussion on Local Choice, which would empower TV viewers, maintain our policy of broadcast localism, and ensure TV stations get fairly compensated for the retransmission of their signals. Because it is a big and bold idea, Local Choice deserves more discussion and a full consideration by policymakers, and the committee may not have time to include it as part of STAVRA. Rockefeller and Thune are focused on passing STAVRA next week, and continuing to work with their colleagues on Local Choice.”
NAB President-CEO Gordon Smith said in a statement: “NAB is thankful for the consideration Senate Commerce Committee members gave the ‘Local Choice’ proposal and for recognizing the unintended negative consequences this measure would have had on localism, broadcasters and our millions of viewers. We thank the nearly 130,000 viewers and listeners across America who have called and emailed Congress on the importance of preserving free and local television.
“We remain seriously concerned with a number of provisions remaining in the Commerce Committee bill, and we look forward to working with committee members as STAVRA moves through the legislative process to ensure our viewers’ continued access to lifeline local television,” Smith added.
Robert C. Kenny, spokesman for the broadcaster advocacy group TVfreedom, issued this statement: “We are encouraged by the Senate Commerce Committee’s decision to eliminate the ‘Local Choice’ components from its draft STAVRA legislation.In the interest of the millions of low-income households, seniors and underserved populations that rely on paid television services for their local news and programming, severe weather updates and emergency information, we will continue to fight to preserve the lifeline basic service tier provision in any legislation that moves forward this year.”
American Cable Association President-CEO Matthew Polka said: “Make no mistake about it: Local Choice is a powerful, bipartisan idea rooted in free-market principles that would create a level playing field and discipline the market in ways that benefit the public. This is a concept whose time will come. In the next Congress, ACA stands ready to work with lawmakers on enacting this important reform so necessary to protect consumers from TV station-initiated blackouts on less than a moment’s notice. One thing is for sure: ACA will be there every step of the way until real ‘TV freedom’is the law of the land.”
Wells Fargo Senior Analyst Marci Ryvicker said that “while it sounds like Local Choice is not completely dead, we think that the proposal is almost impossible to be passed this congressional cycle without being a part of the STAVRA bill (recall that STAVRA sunsets at the end of this year).” She added she was “not surprised by today’s announcement and view this as an overall positive to some minor overhang in the broadcast stocks.