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ALEXANDRIA, VA, January 28, 1999 – Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association (SBCA) President Chuck Hewitt announced today that the Direct-to-Home (DTH) satellite television industry is encouraged by satellite legislation introduced by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) and Senate Communications Subcommittee Chairman Conrad Burns (R-MT). The legislation is designed to facilitate local into local retransmission of network signals via satellite and to continue distant network signal delivery to some of the millions of consumers who may soon lose those signals as a result of a federal court’s orders, even though they cannot receive local network television broadcasts with an outdoor antenna.

"We are encouraged that Senators McCain and Burns are seeking to make the satellite industry more competitive and to protect some of the consumers who may unfairly lose the distant network signals they are currently receiving via satellite," Hewitt said.

The McCain-Burns legislation would allow satellite television subscribers to receive distant network signals via satellite in three situations: when there is no local network affiliate; when subscribers cannot receive the broadcasts of the local affiliates over-the-air; and when receipt of distant network signals would not "materially harm" local television service. The bill directs the Federal Communications Commission to undertake a rulemaking to determine whether satellite television subscribers who currently receive distant network signals via satellite may continue to do so without "causing a projected loss of audience and revenue of such a magnitude as to cause material harm to the viability of local stations." The bill would delay the termination of distant network signals for many current subscribers during the rulemaking.

The legislation is designed to work in tandem with legislation introduced last week by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT). SBCA has already announced its support for the Hatch bill. The Hatch legislation would: extend the satellite industry’s compulsory license for five years; reduce satellite copyright rates from the current rate of 27 cents per subscriber per month to approximately 18.9 cents for superstations and 14.85 cents for network signals; eliminate any further Copyright Arbitration Rate Panel (CARP) rate-making during the five-year period; and eliminate the 90-day waiting period for current cable subscribers to receive distant network signals. In addition, when taken together, the Hatch and McCain-Burns bills would authorize local into local retransmission with no royalty fee and provide for a transition to full must carry.

"We recognize that both of these bills are seeking to give consumers what they need – relief from unfair terminations of distant network signals and a more competitive marketplace," Hewitt said. "We look forward to working with the Senators on refining the bills to ensure that they meet these important goals."ewi

The Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association of America (SBCA) is the national trade organization representing all segments of the home satellite industry. It is committed to expanding the utilization of satellite technology for the broadcast delivery of entertainment, news, information and educational programming. The SBCA is composed of satellite manufacturers, system operators, equipment manufacturers, distributors, retailers, DBS companies, mass merchandisers, encryption vendors and programmers.