The new rules governing the relationships between broadcast and satellite television were fast-tracked through Congress all year due to the 1/1/10 sunset on the old rules. But in the end, Congress didn’t get a bill to that desk in the Oval Office and extended the rules through 3/1/10. The FCC has just made it official on its own end.
The extension was tucked into the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010.
The FCC says it is going ahead with the extension without the benefit of public comment, saying, “We are amending these rules without providing prior public notice and comment because prior notice and comment would be impracticable in this case.” The reason is simply that Congress didn’t provide enough time to go through normal procedure.
Some House Republicans were in favor of sunsetting SHVERA for good.
Others in Congress are interested in bringing out-of-market broadcast signals into local markets, particularly when a community in one state is in a Nielsen DMA centered in a different state, often depriving residents of that community access to news of particular interest to their state of residence.
Broadcasters are generally opposed to such importation since it dilutes the audience of the broadcast station already serving the DMA.
Many in Congress are also interested in getting local-into-local service from the satellite broadcasters in all 210 DMAs.
The bill had to make its way through both the commerce and judiciary committees, and their various subcommittees, in both houses, and committee leaders tried to steer clear of contentious issues in order to beat the sunset. Now they have an extra three months to try again.