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House Passes Satellite Home Viewer Bill

12/04/2009 10:23:12 AM Eastern

Washington - The U.S. House of Representatives passed
Thursday an updated version of the satellite reauthorization bill (HR 3750).

The Satellite Home Viewer Reauthorization Act, which passed
with a 394 to 11 vote, reauthorizes the satellite compulsory license for
carriage of distant network affiliate TV station signals.

Similar legislation must be passed by the Senate and combined
with the HR 3750 or the distant network carriage license will expire at the end
of the year.

The measure also requires broadcasters to deliver local
broadcasts to all 210 designated market areas across the country. Both DirecTV
and Dish Network now offer local TV services to most markets. Dish Network did not
offer local TV service in 28 of the smallest markets, and offered access in
those areas to distant network channels before a court order halted the
practice for problems in determining viewer eligibility.

The bill also stiffens penalties for any future problems, and
requires Dish to deliver
high-definition noncommercial station signals by 2011 instead of the Federal
Communications Commission's current 2013 deadline.

Dish has said that it couldn't meet that schedule.

In a statement on the measure, Dish Network said it
"remains concerned about the HD carriage mandate for PBS stations included
in the bill, and the substantial additional penalties and burdensome audit
requirements recently added to the bill.

"We look forward to working with House and Senate committees
to make the changes necessary to ensure that legislation is enacted this year
that serves the needs of the American public and continues to provide the
framework for a vibrant satellite industry to compete with cable and
telcos."

DirecTV, on the other
hand, applauded the House action, saying: "HR. 3570 protects the interests of
the viewing public."

The measure also offers new auditing systems for copyright
issues particularly pertaining to digital multicast streams offered by
satellite companies, and adds stiffer penalties for infringement.

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