By John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable Online, 12-19-19

AT&T is warning Congress that hundreds of thousands of viewers will lose access to broadcast channels they now get after the STELAR law sunsets at the end of the year.

STELAR is primarily the compulsory license that allowed satellite operators to import distant network TV station signals to markets that lacked a viewable local version.

What does not sunset is the STELAR law’s mandate that broadcasters and MVPDs negotiate retrans in good faith.  Also not sunsetting is the compulsory license covering RVs. truckers, and “short” markets, which are ones lacking one or more network affiliates rather than ones where the signal is not sufficiently strong to be considered viewable.

The House passed the omnibus spending bill package that includes the STELAR sunset earlier this week and the Senate is expected to follow suit by Friday to keep the government open.

In a blog post Thursday (Dec. 19) in advance of that vote, AT&T SVP James Cicconi said bluntly: “Make no mistake, when the screens of those consumers go dark, the sole reason will be that Congress did not act to protect them.”  » Read More