Today, AT&T asked Congress to extend the company’s carriage license deadline so that DirecTV customers living in rural America don’t lose access to network affiliate TV channels during the pandemic. Currently, the license is set to expire at the end of May because Congress only partially reauthorized the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELAR), jeopardizing Americans who rely on satellite TV service for news and entertainment. Public Knowledge urges Congress to protect consumers during this especially vulnerable time by extending the deadline.
The following can be attributed to Jenna Leventoff, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“While the final STELAR legislation was a reasonable compromise that contained much-needed consumer protections, we were worried that conditioning the distant signal licenses on a satellite TV provider agreeing to serve every television market with local service could lead to a loss of service for some customers, rather than new build-out. This appears to be the case, as under current law, AT&T is about to lose the ability to provide distant signal coverage to thousands of its customers.
“As Americans continue to confront the dual public health and economic crises caused by COVID-19, they should not lose access to the broadcast stations they need for important public safety news and entertainment. Nor should they be forced to sign up with a new pay TV provider in order to maintain their access to these channels, potentially putting both their families and cable TV installers at unnecessary risk.
“Americans are doing their part by staying home to help flatten the curve and stop the spread of the coronavirus. We urge Congress to protect consumers and minimize any unnecessary disruptions to their sources for news and information by extending the expiration date of the distant network signal license until this pandemic has ended, rather than allowing it to expire next month.”
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