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The US Week Ahead: Congress to hold 2 hearings on media marketplace

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The US Week Ahead: Congress to hold 2 hearings on media marketplace

Both chambers of Congress will hold hearings this week that focus on the media marketplace.

House

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications and Technology on June 4 will hold a hearing titled "STELAR Review: Protecting Consumers in an Evolving Media Marketplace." The hearing will focus on a piece of legislation known as the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization, a law passed in 2014 that extended expiring provisions related to the retransmission of signals of television broadcast stations.

One provision in the law allows satellite TV providers to import certain distant broadcast networks to unserved households. The provision also exempts satellite operators from retransmission consent requirements for the carriage of distant networks to those households. It expires at the end of 2019, pending reauthorization.

"Too often the conversation in Washington surrounding satellite reauthorization has focused on what is good for companies," said Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., in a joint May 28 statement. "As Congress revisits this issue, we will look at how consumers are affected and what can be done to improve their choices and viewing experience."

Pallone is the chair of the full committee, while Doyle is the chair of the subcommittee hosting the hearing.

Gordon Smith, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, will be among the witnesses at the hearing.

In an interview with S&P Global Market Intelligence in December of 2018, Smith said he believes the law should be allowed to expire since he does not think Congress ever intended for it to be a permanent fixture. NAB also circulated a memo in September 2018 opposing the reauthorization of the law.

"The growth of the satellite TV business, advancements in technology and private business agreements that exist in the media marketplace have rendered the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization Act (STELAR) unnecessary," read the memo.

John Bergmayer, senior counsel at public interest group Public Knowledge, will also be a witness at the hearing. When Congress was considering reauthorizing STELA in 2014, Bergmayer testified in support of reauthorization.

"Given the importance of STELA to maintaining competition on the video marketplace, Congress should reauthorize STELA indefinitely, without sunset," said Bergmayer in prepared testimony before a Senate hearing on reauthorization in 2014.

Other scheduled witnesses include AT&T Inc. content executive Robert Thun and Patricia Jo Boyers, president of BOYCOM Vision.

Senate

On June 5, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will hold its hearing on the television and video marketplace.

According to a committee announcement, the hearing will examine how television programming and the delivery of video content has evolved over the past decade. The announcement also says the hearing will examine existing laws that govern the video marketplace.

NAB's Smith will also be among the witnesses at the Senate hearing. Other witnesses will include Michael Powell, president of NCTA – The Internet and Television Association, a group that represents major pay TV players such as Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications Inc., and David Gandler, CEO of streaming service fuboTV Inc.

FCC

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will host its monthly open meeting on June 6.

At the top of the commission's agenda for the meeting is an item that would clarify that its call-blocking rules allow U.S. carriers to block robocalls by default.

Specifically, the commission will vote on a declaratory ruling that would assert that voice service providers have the authority to block calls by default — based on call analytics that target unwanted calls — as long as customers are informed of the practice and have the ability to opt out.

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Federal government
June 3 The FCC's Consumer Advisory Committee will host a meeting.
June 4 The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will host a hearing titled "STELAR Review: Protecting Consumers In An Evolving Media Marketplace."
June 4 The House Committee on Oversight and Reform will host a hearing titled "Facial Recognition Technology (Part II): Ensuring Transparency in Government Use."
June 5 The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will host a hearing titled "The State of the Television and Video Marketplace."
June 6 The FCC will host its monthly open meeting.
Industry, legal and think tank events
June 3 New America's Open Technology Institute will host an event titled "Next Generation Wi-Fi: Accelerating 5G for All Americans" in Washington, D.C. FCC Commissioners Michael O'Rielly and Jessica Rosenworcel are expected to participate.
June 3-5 The Fiber Broadband Association will host a conference titled "Fiber Connect" in Orlando, Fla.
June 5 The American Enterprise Institute will host an event titled "Big data, little kids: How technology is changing child welfare" in Washington, D.C.
June 5 The Technology Policy Institute will host an event titled "What's the Answer to the C-Band Conundrum?" in Washington, D.C.
June 5 The Electronic Privacy Information Center will host an event titled "AI and Human Rights: The Future of AI Policy in the US" in Washington, D.C.
June 5 Public Citizen, a progressive consumer advocacy group, will host a forum on privacy and data protection legislation in Washington, D.C.


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