Right now, the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) is set to expire in just over a week. STELA gives satellite services like DISH and AT&T access to local channels among other things. Now AT&T has come out and publicly warned that if this rule expires DIRECTV would lose access to local channels.
The House has approved a new bill called the Television Viewer Protection Act and the Satellite Television Community Protection and Promotion Act of 2019, but according to AT&T, this new bill does not include provisions that force local broadcasters to offer their local channels to DISH and DIRECTV.
“Rather than address this problem, Congress has instead bowed to further demands from broadcasters to eliminate a law called STELA, removing hundreds of thousands of consumers’ access to broadcast channels they receive today. Make no mistake, when the screens of those consumers go dark, the sole reason will be that Congress did not act to protect them,” said AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President James Cicconi.
AT&T wants Congress to once again force broadcasters to offer locals to DIRECTV and others.
“If the broadcasters truly want to debate, and to justify such predation based on the principle of free-market economics, we are prepared. But all issues should be on the table. That includes the grant of free spectrum from the public given to local broadcasters for one purpose and now used for another. It should also include the grant of monopoly rights for local broadcasters in specific geographic areas – hardly consistent with any concept of a free market,” said AT&T’s Cicconi.
If you remember back when satellite TV was new many of the services did not offer local channels. Now AT&T believes these days could soon return.
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