06.26.14

Judiciary Committee Approves Leahy’s Bipartisan Bill To Renew Soon-To-Expire Satellite TV Law

. . . Leahy Also Begins Committee’s Discussion Of Cellphone Unlocking Bill

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, June 26, 2014) – The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday unanimously approved bipartisan legislation authored by Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to reauthorize the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act, a law known as “STELA” that provides certain consumers access to distant broadcast television content by satellite.

The bipartisan Satellite Television Access Reauthorization Act approved by the Committee today would extend STELA for another five years and ensure that satellite customers can continue to access their current television content. If Congress does not pass legislation before the law expires, approximately 1.5 million satellite customers could lose access to their current broadcast television stations. To avoid this, Leahy and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced the reauthorization measure earlier this month and quickly moved it through Committee on a bipartisan basis.

“Satellite television legislation should never be partisan – it should be an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to come together and demonstrate to the American people that we can act responsibly and prevent serious disruption to consumers,” Leahy said. “I thank Ranking Member Grassley and all members of the Committee for working with me to ensure that consumers in all our states will be able to continue accessing television content in the manner they choose.” 

The Committee adopted an amendment offered by Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) that would improve the ability of cable companies to carry low power television stations.

The Committee also began discussion of bipartisan legislation that would restore the ability of consumers to more easily transfer their cell phones to other wireless carriers. Leahy and Grassley partnered together on this important consumer issue last year by introducing the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, and the Senators announced an agreement this week on modified legislation that promotes competition and improves consumer choice. Leahy urged members to support the commonsense bill, which will be taken up at the next executive business meeting.

“Consumers should be able to use their existing cell phones when they move their service to a new wireless provider.  I have worked for months with Ranking Member Grassley, Chairman Goodlatte and House members, consumer advocates and wireless providers to ensure we enact common sense legislation that puts consumers first by allowing them to ‘unlock’ their cell phones,” Leahy said. “I urge all members of the Judiciary Committee and all Senators to support this commonsense, pro-consumer bill.”

An outline of the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act can be found here, and text of legislation can be found online.

Results and a webcast of Thursday’s executive business meeting can be found online

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