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Public Statements

Hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee - Executive Session

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Kerry Lauds Expanded Local Television Access

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 19, 2009

CONTACT: DC Press Office, 202-224-4159

Hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee - Executive Session

Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, today applauded the Committee's passage of legislation to expand local television access.

The Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) of 2009, which Kerry cosponsored with Chairman John D. Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), reauthorizes the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act (SHVERA) of 2004, allowing consumers continued access to the local television broadcasting they rely on in their communities.

"Consumers deserve access to local news and entertainment, including public broadcasting, no matter where they live or who provides their service," said Kerry. "Such programming is increasingly scarce and in turn, increasingly precious -- for the jobs it generates, the sense of community it provides and for public safety."

Kerry's statement as prepared is below:

Thank you Chairman Rockefeller for drafting and bringing to the Committee today the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2009 (STELA). I was proud to cosponsor it with you.

The bill will reauthorize the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act of 2004. Doing so is necessary for the continuation of satellite television service across the country.

This is not a partisan issue and I appreciate the cooperation of the Ranking Member on this Committee and on our Subcommittee in all the work leading to this markup, including a hearing I chaired on this measure last October.

This reauthorization is more complex than it might seem. It affects consumers, satellite television service providers, and television broadcasters, each of which is operating under different needs and constraints.

Competition is important. It provides more choices for consumers and it lowers the price of service. So we need to create incentives for the widest and most robust distribution of satellite television service possible.

We also need to encourage satellite service providers to offer local news and programming in every community they choose to enter. Such programming is increasingly scarce and in turn, increasingly precious -- for the jobs it generates and for the sense of community it provides.

The tension between these public interest goals is that satellite spectrum capacity is finite and the carriage of each additional local broadcast channel, public or private, takes up space the satellite companies either do not have or would rather use for other things.

The solution is for those companies to either send up more satellites, improve the use of their existing spectrum, or both.

But Congress will not wait forever for satellite carriers to retransmit the signals of local broadcasters in every community in America - and I am still open to stronger requirements toward that end if necessary.

I am particularly concerned that public broadcasters have not won the high definition carriage they deserve in many markets. I strongly urge both sides to come to come together and negotiate a private solution that will treat public broadcasting with the respect afforded commercial stations. The language in today's mark up is intended to encourage that negotiation.

This is not the end of this process but rather the necessary next step in moving toward a final bill. I'm ready to do my part, Mr. Chairman, in helping you continue to move us forward. I look forward to our continued partnership.


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