Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening remarks during the markup of H.R. 5140, the Satellite Television Community Protection and Promotion Act of 2019:
"H.R. 5140, the 'Satellite Television Community Protection and Promotion Act,' amends the satellite television distant signal license contained in section 119 of the Copyright Act. The license is currently set to expire at the end of this year.
"Under section 119, satellite carriers can import an out-of-state broadcast network’s programming to subscribers in certain types of households. These include households that do not receive sufficiently strong over-the-air signals; recreational vehicles and commercial trucks; households that receive a waiver from a local network affiliate to receive a distant signal; households that are in markets where local service is available but who have been 'grandfathered' into eligibility; and households in 'short markets,' where one or more of the local networks is not available at all.
"When satellite carriers use this license, they pay government-set royalty rates for the distant, out-of-state programming, and need not negotiate with individual copyright owners.
"Households that receive programming under the license do not get to see their local news, local weather, or local emergency alerts. Instead, they get news, weather, and emergency alerts from distant markets like New York or Los Angeles.
"Congress originally created the section 119 license in 1988 when the satellite industry was in its infancy. The license was enacted as a temporary measure with the goal of ensuring that the newer satellite industry could effectively compete with cable. The Congress of 1988 would consider this mission accomplished.
"More than 30 years have passed since the section’s enactment, during which the satellite industry has matured to two major players, with nationwide subscribership.
"Technology has likewise advanced, making it feasible for satellite carriers to retransmit local stations into these households instead of distant out-of-state signals.
"One satellite carrier provides this local service in all 210 media markets; another provides local service in 198 of those markets. A separate license in section 122 of the Copyright Act governs this type of service. Indeed, many of the households receiving distant programming under the license have local broadcast stations that serve their area and that carry news and other information relevant and important to them.
"H.R. 5140 accounts for this changing landscape and prioritizes the provision of local programming by letting most of the license expire and conditioning the use of the remaining part of the license on the satellite carrier’s provision of local service in all 210 media markets.
"This legislation also acknowledges that some households might run the risk of losing access to these stations in a purely market-based system. These include households in short markets, where at least one of the four network stations is missing, and RVs and commercial trucks, which are not in fixed locations. The license is made permanent for these two groups.
"Under H.R. 5140, most of the license expires, as Congress intended 30 years ago, while the statute is made permanent for some of the most vulnerable subscribers. And in that process, H.R. 5140 helps bring local television into these communities.
"I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 5140."