Thune, Rockefeller praise passage of STELA Reauthorization

Sens. John D. Rockefeller (D-W.V.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) issued a joint release praising the passage of the “must-pass” Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) Reauthorization Act of 2014 in the U.S. Senate on Thursday.

The bill reauthorizes communications and copyright laws scheduled to expire at the end of 2014, ensuring 1.5 million satellite television subscribers in rural areas that lack a local affiliate will continue to receive service.

The House previously passed an identical bill and President Barack Obama is expected to sign it into law.

Rockefeller, the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and Thune, the ranking member of the committee, said in the release that the unanimous passage of the bipartisan bill “makes important, common-sense and pro-consumer reforms to the nation’s video laws, many of which originated in our Senate bill that the Commerce Committee passed in September.”

Among the reforms in the bill is a provision that bans broadcasters from banding together to negotiate retransmission consent, something smaller cable operators considered to be collusion. It also ends a mandate that cable companies use a CableCARD to promote retail competition in the cable box market.

Rockefeller and Thune thanked House colleagues Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) “for working with us to find consensus.”

Thune will be chairman of the Commerce Committee in the 114th Congress.