NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith testified on Tuesday morning (6/4) at House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology hearing entitled, “STELAR Review: Protecting Consumers in an Evolving Media Marketplace.”
In his prepared remarks, Smith stated, “On behalf of the free and local broadcast television stations serving your hometowns, I appreciate the opportunity to testify on how Congress can ensure that viewers are better able to access their local news, sports, weather and emergency information by allowing the expiring provisions of STELAR to sunset this year.”
Smith said Congress has achieved its goal of a competitive marketplace now essentially unrecognizable from the one that prompted the law. He said there are now “no technological impediments to providing satellite viewers with their local broadcast stations rather than out-of-market substitutes,” which he points out Dish has been doing for a decade.
“Viewers will benefit from eliminating this outdated law, ensuring they receive the local content most relevant to them. In rare instances where a local broadcast channel is not available, private business arrangements between satellite TV providers and broadcasters can resolve these issues,” he said.
That is a reference to one of the situations in which the license is used to import distant signals—so-called short markets that lack all of the Big Four affiliates.
Smith also said the part of the law that requires broadcasters and pay-TV providers, including cable, to negotiate in good faith has provided no quantifiable benefit, its good-faith origins notwithstanding.