Dish, DirecTV Back STELA Draft

Dish and DirecTV compete fiercely for subs, but they are together in their support for reauthorizing the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) draft issued by the Republican leadership of the House Communications Subcommittee.

Among other things, the draft would limit coordinated retransmission consent negotiations in some circumstances. The House Communications Subcommittee is holding a hearing on the draft of the bill March 12. Mike Palkovic, EVP of DirecTV, is scheduled to testify, along with representatives from the cable and broadcasting industries, public advocates, and Tivo.

[March 10]

Leagues To Supremes: Aereo 'Package' Is Game Breaker

Pro football and baseball have warned the Supreme Court that if Aereo is allowed to deliver and package TV station signals without paying copyright fees for the programming, the leagues will likely take their ball and go home, "home" being pay channels where they can be sure to get compensated and where their own packages of games can't be trumped by a service that doesn't pay. In an amicus brief with the court in support of a broadcaster challenge to Aereo, the NFL and Major League Baseball spelled it out clearly, putting an extra point on its brief back in November asking the court to take the appeal. Plenty of football and baseball have already moved to national and regional cable sports networks, but the leagues argued that flight could become a stampede if the court rules in Aereo's favor. Aereo and its backers will weigh in with briefs beginning March 26. The FCC is scheduled to hear oral argument in the case on April 22. [March 10]

FCC Chairman Wheeler Collects Support From Diversity Groups, Hill for JSA Proposal

Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler collected plaudits from diversity groups and Hill Democrats for his decision to make joint sales agreements over 15% of a station's ad sales attributable under the FCC's ownership rules and prohibit coordinated retransmission consent among two separately owned stations in a market if they were among the top four.

"While we look forward to examining all items related to the announcements once they are released by the Commission, we are pleased that Chairman Wheeler has heeded the advice of NHMC and many others and put the final nail in the coffin of proposals advanced by former Chairman Genachowski that would have favored increased media consolidation at the expense of a greater diversity of voices," said the National Hispanic Media Coalition. NHMC also said it hoped the announcement was a "tacit" signal that the FCC knows it has to collect more info on the impact of its rules on diversity.

The Minority Media & Telecommunications Council said it supported the FCC's JSA decision, as well as his decision to propose requiring shared services agreements to be reported to the FCC. "The chairman’s announcement wisely leaves the door open for those instances in which the only way to save a struggling television station is with a 'sidecar' JSA or SSA arrangement," said MMTC. "The Commission should also consider the very thoughtful proposal of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) to authorize temporary JSAs and SSAs when used as incubators of minority and women entrepreneurs."

[March 7]