Doyle Announces Bipartisan Agreement on Television Viewer Protection Act

November 20, 2019
Press Release

Washington, DC – November 20, 2019 – U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (PA-18), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, announced that a bipartisan agreement had been reached on revisions to H.R. 5035, the Television Viewer Protection Act.

“I’m happy to announce that we have reached a bipartisan deal on this legislation.

“There were a number of contentious issues to be addressed, but I pledged when the Subcommittee approved my bill that we would work with our colleagues to address their concerns before it was marked up in the full Committee, and I’m very pleased that we were able to fulfil that commitment.

“I want to thank Ranking Members Walden and Latta for their willingness to work with us over many, many hours to hammer out this agreement. I also want to commend both Majority and Minority staff for all of their hard work, which went late into the night over the weekend and the last few days.

“This is a complex issue that directly affects millions of Americans. I’m very pleased that we were able to negotiate a bipartisan compromise on legislation to permanently authorize the laws governing good faith negotiations between broadcasters and multichannel video programming distributors over the carriage of broadcast television programming.

“The deal also enables the Judiciary Committee to extend the distant signal license, which allows satellite tv providers to carry broadcast television content to nearly a million consumers. I understand that the House Judiciary Committee is working toward an agreement on this legislation.”

“We were also able to come to agreement on important provisions related to billing transparency and the ability of small cable providers to negotiate together with large broadcast ownership groups. 

“This deal is a big win for consumers.”

“It’s my hope that we can move this important legislation through the committee, the House, and the Senate and get it signed into law before the current authorization expires at the end of the year.”

Federal law sets many rules for television broadcast signals, such as licensing and broadcaster ownership rules. It also sets the rules under which cable and satellite TV companies can retransmit broadcast television signals to their customers. This is a highly valued service for households that don’t receive one or more network-affiliated television signals because of restrictive geography or their remote location. Some of these laws were last reauthorized in 2014 in the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization Act (“STELAR Act,” P.L. 113-200) and are set to expire on December 31, 2019.

The compromise amendment to H.R. 5035 would:

  • make important provisions related to good faith in retransmission consent negotiations permanent,
  • apply important consumer rights and transparency requirements to consumers’ cable and satellite bills, and
  • give small rural cable providers the ability to negotiate as a group to purchase broadcast programming from the largest broadcast ownership groups, but provide important protections for broadcasters if a buying group does not act in good faith.