CCAGW Urges Senate Leadership to Pass Extension of STELAR in S. 2789 | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

CCAGW Urges Senate Leadership to Pass Extension of STELAR in S. 2789

Letters to Officials

 December 6, 2019

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Charles Schumer
Minority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Lindsey Graham
Chairman
Judiciary Committee
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
Ranking Member
Judiciary Committee
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Roger Wicker
Chairman
Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Maria Cantwell
Ranking Member
Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, Chairman Graham and Wicker, and Ranking Member Feinstein and Cantwell,

On behalf of the more than one million members and supporters of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW), I urge you to pass a simple extension of STELAR, which is included in S. 2789, the Satellite Television Reauthorization Act of 2019 (STAR Act of 2019), and reject any attempt to modify that legislation with provisions contained in or similar to H.R. 5140, the Satellite Television Community Protection and Promotion Act of 2019, which has been reported by the House Judiciary Committee.

A straight reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Reauthorization Act (STELAR) under S. 2789 would protect the more than 870,000 satellite TV subscribers who are at risk of losing access to broadcast content vital to their communities from major broadcast networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox through distant signal licenses. Unless Congress acts, the law will sunset on December 31, 2019.

H.R. 5140 fails to build on the original intent of STELAR to serve otherwise unserved customers and instead attempts to improve local service to viewers, which could have the opposite effect. The bill would allow the distant signal license to expire after just six short months in certain markets for certain customers, based solely on the company providing them services. The expiration places hundreds of thousands of consumers at risk of losing access to national broadcast TV programming. These consumers are largely in rural areas and rely on satellite because they have been left behind, like those in short markets, in which broadcasters do not provide local network programming, and in areas where broadcasters have failed to provide an over-the-air signal. Given the current offerings of the two satellite providers, consumers in these markets will either have to go without certain broadcast network television, or seek programing from DISH, the only provider that H.R. 5140 would currently permit to serve satellite customers using distant signals. Creating a virtual monopoly for one company for certain customers does nothing to protect consumers, and we urge you to prevent language from this legislation from being added to any reauthorization legislation.

Reauthorization of STELAR should be an opportunity for Congress to take a fresh look at the video marketplace and strengthen current consumer protections. However, with time running out on STELAR reauthorization, S. 2789 provides the best path forward to protect consumers in the near term, while allowing time for more meaningful video marketplace reforms before the next expiration date. We strongly urge you to pass S. 2789 and reject H.R. 5140 or any amendments to S. 2789 that are similar to or contain provisions like those in H.R. 5140.  

All votes relating to the reauthorization of STELAR will be among those considered in CCAGW’s 2019 Congressional Ratings.

Sincerely,

Tom Schatz
President, CCAGW

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