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what does the passing of Stela means for distant networks..


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#1 OFFLINE   bjlc

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 08:07 PM

so now congress has passed Stela.. what does that mean for my distant networks?

I am looking for the difinitive answer.. can we keep them? and can we keep them and have our locals as well ?

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#2 OFFLINE   blc

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 10:08 PM

"SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES- A subscriber of a satellite carrier who was lawfully receiving the distant signal of a network station on the day before the date of enactment of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010 may receive both such distant signal and the local signal of a network station affiliated with the same network until such subscriber chooses to no longer receive such distant signal from such carrier, whether or not such subscriber elects to subscribe to such local signal."

#3 OFFLINE   blc

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 10:18 PM

And here's one more provision in STELA stating you can keep them.

"RULES FOR LAWFUL SUBSCRIBERS AS OF DATE OF ENACTMENT OF 2010 ACT- In the case of a subscriber of a satellite carrier who, on the day before the date of the enactment of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010, was lawfully receiving the secondary transmission of the primary transmission of a network station under the statutory license under paragraph (2) (in this subparagraph referred to as the `distant signal'), other than subscribers to whom subparagraph (A) applies, the statutory license under paragraph (2) shall apply to secondary transmissions by that satellite carrier to that subscriber of the distant signal of a station affiliated with the same television network, and the subscriber's household shall continue to be considered to be an unserved household with respect to such network, until such time as the subscriber elects to terminate such secondary transmissions, whether or not the subscriber elects to subscribe to receive the secondary transmission of the primary transmission of a local network station affiliated with the same network pursuant to the statutory license under section 122."

#4 OFFLINE   Jon Ellis

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 10:42 PM

What I'm wondering is whether DISH will keep the San Francisco SD feeds or switch back to LA. It's a hard choice for me because I like both. Hopefully they'll give us the option of choosing from a half-dozen cities like they did before the injunction.

#5 OFFLINE   joblo

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 02:56 AM

What I'm wondering is whether DISH will keep the San Francisco SD feeds or switch back to LA. It's a hard choice for me because I like both. Hopefully they'll give us the option of choosing from a half-dozen cities like they did before the injunction.

Not likely.

DISH will only be able to use DNS to fill out short markets that are missing one or more nets. They will almost certainly provide those missing nets by adding an out of market station on the same spot beam. There’s no reason to think they would waste CONUS space just to offer short market folks a choice of where they get their missing nets.

Also, DISH cannot grandfather AAD customers, so if/when DISH and NPS decide to terminate their transponder lease agreement(s), AAD customers will lose service.

#6 OFFLINE   runner861

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 05:39 PM

First, Dish has to comply with some new carriage requirements. Then, Dish can seek to have the injunction lifted. However, even when the injunction is lifted, we cannot be sure what will happen. Dish and AAD may have contemplated the injunction being lifted at some time. Their contract will govern what happens, if this event was contemplated in the contract. Thus, AAD may continue service indefinitely, or their may be some changes at some point. I have noticed that on the Satelliteguys site, many people are announcing the termination of AAD service, seemingly without any actual knowledge.

Even if Dish does resume distant network service, it is uncertain how they may do it. They may choose to spill spot beams from neighboring markets. However, this approach may not work as the spotbeams may not cover all the necessary areas. I believe that it is just as likely that Dish will simply keep the same service that AAD is offering. That will avoid interruption of service to their customers, and it may be more efficient to continue with those stations on CONUS.

Although I believe that Dish cannot grandfather AAD customers, since Dish and AAD are separate carriers, I do not believe that the termination of the contract between Dish and AAD means that AAD customers will lose service. Grandfathering refers to continuing to receive a distant station when a local station becomes available. Those persons who have waivers with AAD will probably lose service if AAD and Dish terminate the contract, and there is a local station available. However, many AAD customers are in short markets where a network station is missing. These people do not need waivers to receive a distant network station from that missing network. Thus, their eligibility for a distant station will continue, whether AAD is providing service or Dish is providing service.

Edited by runner861, 15 May 2010 - 08:50 PM.


#7 OFFLINE   joblo

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 04:27 PM

I have noticed that on the Satelliteguys site, many people are announcing the termination of AAD service, seemingly without any actual knowledge.

Yeah, I waded through all that yesterday. There’s a lot of useful information over there, particularly regarding channel lists, spot transponders, and so on, but there’s also a lot of noise. I’m sometimes tempted to correct the misinformation I see there, but then I remember that I refuse to post there because of their ad policy, and that saves me a lot of time.

As for AAD, I really can’t see why Dish would want to discontinue its contract with them and take over providing that service directly. AAD will always be able to provide DNS to customers that Dish cannot, not only because of grandfathering, but also because AAD doesn’t provide LIL service. It seems like the smart move would be for AAD to continue as Dish’s DNS provider, at least on the Western Arc, for as long as it is profitable for both companies.

Even if Dish does resume distant network service, it is uncertain how they may do it. They may choose to spill spot beams from neighboring markets. However, this approach may not work as the spotbeams may not cover all the necessary areas.

They might do ConUS DNS on the Eastern Arc, because they still have ConUS locals there, but on the Western Arc, I don't think they will need to. It’s probably not a coincidence that AAD is providing service only on the Western Arc.

Although I believe that Dish cannot grandfather AAD customers, since Dish and AAD are separate carriers, I do not believe that the termination of the contract between Dish and AAD means that AAD customers will lose service. Grandfathering refers to continuing to receive a distant station when a local station becomes available. Those persons who have waivers with AAD will probably lose service if AAD and Dish terminate the contract, and there is a local station available. However, many AAD customers are in short markets where a network station is missing. These people do not need waivers to receive a distant network station from that missing network. Thus, their eligibility for a distant station will continue, whether AAD is providing service or Dish is providing service.

See above. Dish will provide DNS to short markets as part of the local package, and on the Western Arc, where AAD operates, Dish will probably do that by spot beam. I do not think that AAD customers will be able to get the same channels from the same satellites from Dish, if AAD does indeed terminate its service.

But we’ll see.

Btw, under STELA, multicast streams can qualify as local network service beginning in October 2010, or in some cases, January 2011. This suggests that folks who want a distant HD net because their local station provides that net via SD subchannel would be well advised to get that distant HD net before October.

#8 OFFLINE   Jon Ellis

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 05:22 PM

Here's an odd question for anyone who can answer...could DISH keep its contract with AAD and resume offering DNS on its own? And could people theoretically receive up to four DNS affiliates of each network if they are receiving them from two different providers?

#9 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 06:03 PM

Here's an odd question for anyone who can answer...could DISH keep its contract with AAD and resume offering DNS on its own? And could people theoretically receive up to four DNS affiliates of each network if they are receiving them from two different providers?

Theoretically, yes. There is nothing stopping AAD from continuing operations after DISH resumes selling distants. It would be just like a customer having DirecTV distants and AAD.

I wonder if AAD would survive with direct competition on the same equipment that DISH uses. It wouldn't be hard to put AAD out of business.

#10 OFFLINE   runner861

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 10:03 PM

Here is another odd question that people might enjoy discussing. I am quoting from the final language of STELA:

(iii) TIME-SHIFTING PROHIBITED- In a case in which the satellite carrier makes available to an eligible subscriber under this subparagraph the signal of a local network station pursuant to section 338, the carrier may only provide the distant signal of a station affiliated with the same network to that subscriber if, in the case of any local market in the 48 contiguous States of the United States, the distant signal is the secondary transmission of a station whose prime time network programming is generally broadcast simultaneously with, or later than, the prime time network programming of the affiliate of the same network in the local market.’;


The time-shifting prohibition appears to be only prohibiting the earlier station when a distant network is provided into a market that already has a local station affiliated with the same network. As worded, it would not include a network station provided to a short market (a market that lacked that same network as a local).

When would a distant network station be provided to a viewer in a market where there already is a local of the same network? I can only think of two situations--either the viewer is a grandfathered viewer, or the viewer has a waiver.

I would be interested to hear anyone else's opinion. I know that AAD thinks that they cannot provide an earlier HD network (i.e. Chicago HD to California), but I am not aware that this section has ever been litigated. I feel that, after a careful reading, a judge will agree that an earlier distant can be provided to a market that lacks that same network affiliate.

#11 OFFLINE   joshjr

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 11:12 PM

Here is another odd question that people might enjoy discussing. I am quoting from the final language of STELA:

(iii) TIME-SHIFTING PROHIBITED- In a case in which the satellite carrier makes available to an eligible subscriber under this subparagraph the signal of a local network station pursuant to section 338, the carrier may only provide the distant signal of a station affiliated with the same network to that subscriber if, in the case of any local market in the 48 contiguous States of the United States, the distant signal is the secondary transmission of a station whose prime time network programming is generally broadcast simultaneously with, or later than, the prime time network programming of the affiliate of the same network in the local market.’;


The time-shifting prohibition appears to be only prohibiting the earlier station when a distant network is provided into a market that already has a local station affiliated with the same network. As worded, it would not include a network station provided to a short market (a market that lacked that same network as a local).

When would a distant network station be provided to a viewer in a market where there already is a local of the same network? I can only think of two situations--either the viewer is a grandfathered viewer, or the viewer has a waiver.

I would be interested to hear anyone else's opinion. I know that AAD thinks that they cannot provide an earlier HD network (i.e. Chicago HD to California), but I am not aware that this section has ever been litigated. I feel that, after a careful reading, a judge will agree that an earlier distant can be provided to a market that lacks that same network affiliate.

Its kind of a crock. I feel for people on the west coast. Seems like they get the shaft. Perfect example, American Idol. They say the phone lines are open for 2 hours so by he time the west coast airs it he phone lines are closed? I would not like a lot of live content on tape delay. I can see how it would lower ratings on the west coast high I everyone was Watching an earlier episode o shows. All in all really I people are paying for their locals and want to pay more to see the shows earlier via DNS who cares. Everyone's getting paid.

#12 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 11:39 PM

Perfect example, American Idol. They say the phone lines are open for 2 hours so by he time the west coast airs it he phone lines are closed?

Sort of. The lines reopen for the two hours after the west coast replay. And thanks to automatic number identification, they know where you are calling from ... so they can close the east coast area codes at their two hour mark and not accept west coast calls until the appropriate time.

The idea behind the provision in STELA is to make sure a local station doesn't lose viewers to a distant that airs programs earlier. The affiliation agreement that local station has with the network gives them the right to air the program first in their market. The law is written so those rights are not infringed.

No local station no infringement no problem.

#13 OFFLINE   joblo

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 01:12 AM

Here is another odd question that people might enjoy discussing. I am quoting from the final language of STELA:

(iii) TIME-SHIFTING PROHIBITED- In a case in which the satellite carrier makes available to an eligible subscriber under this subparagraph the signal of a local network station pursuant to section 338, the carrier may only provide the distant signal of a station affiliated with the same network to that subscriber if, in the case of any local market in the 48 contiguous States of the United States, the distant signal is the secondary transmission of a station whose prime time network programming is generally broadcast simultaneously with, or later than, the prime time network programming of the affiliate of the same network in the local market.’;


The time-shifting prohibition appears to be only prohibiting the earlier station when a distant network is provided into a market that already has a local station affiliated with the same network. As worded, it would not include a network station provided to a short market (a market that lacked that same network as a local).

Nor does it apply where the satellite carrier does not provide LIL service, which means, theoretically, it does not apply to AAD at all.

When would a distant network station be provided to a viewer in a market where there already is a local of the same network? I can only think of two situations--either the viewer is a grandfathered viewer, or the viewer has a waiver.

Right, and there’s a new grandfather provision that seems to allow you to continue receiving indefinitely any distant once legally obtained, and there are other provisions that I think allow for station-specific waivers, so the applicability even in those situations is ambiguous. My guess is the time-shifting prohibition would be considered prevailing, but that gets into rules of statutory construction beyond my knowledge.

I would be interested to hear anyone else's opinion. I know that AAD thinks that they cannot provide an earlier HD network (i.e. Chicago HD to California), but I am not aware that this section has ever been litigated. I feel that, after a careful reading, a judge will agree that an earlier distant can be provided to a market that lacks that same network affiliate.

The new provision supersedes an old provision that did preclude AAD from providing eastern DNS to the west. AAD's policy may change once STELA becomes law and the FCC enacts implementing regs.

Otoh, STELA seems clearly to preclude the provision of more than two signals in total, whether HD or SD, so I do not think AAD can continue offering SD from NY and SF plus HD from a third city to the same customers.

#14 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 08:07 AM

The new provision supersedes an old provision that did preclude AAD from providing eastern DNS to the west. AAD's policy may change once STELA becomes law and the FCC enacts implementing regs.

So this is actually a loosening of the rules for distants.

Otoh, STELA seems clearly to preclude the provision of more than two signals in total, whether HD or SD, so I do not think AAD can continue offering SD from NY and SF plus HD from a third city to the same customers.

It is a lot easier to regulate distants based on the provider, the provider offering LIL or the provider offering multiple DNS choices but the law COULD be read as applying based on the customer. DISH providing LIL should not preclude DirecTV providing a distant to that market (unless DirecTV also provides LIL) because that would force the customer to have more than one provider to get the networks. But once the customer HAS distants provided to them I believe it could be customer based. No more than two distants of a network can be provided to the customer. But I'm sure that there are people who are happy that they can get more distants by having multiple providers.

With the regulations tied to providers the customers also lose out because the connection to the provider. A customer is grandfathered with their current provider ... if they decided to change providers they lose their grandfathering. I'd like to see some portability there. If a person HAS a distant of a network today (before enactment) via AAD or DirecTV why should they lose it by switching to DISH (once distants are available)? The customer should be qualified. But alas, it is the pairing of the customer and their provider that qualified them for distants. Break the pair and grandfathering ends.

#15 OFFLINE   runner861

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 10:51 AM

I am satisfied that the new STELA does not preclude providing an earlier distant to a short market, as long as the distant station is providing the missing network to the short market. I also agree that, at least in theory, the time-shifting provision does not apply to AAD at all, since AAD does not provide local-into-local service. I hope that AAD and Dish understand this and begin to provide earlier HD distants to the west coast where it is legal to do so. We will have to see how it all plays out.

I agree that the grandfathering should be customer based, rather than carrier based, but I think that that will have to wait until the next rewrite of STELA.

About a year ago, I watched the House Telecommunications Subcommittee hearing on STELA (then called SHVERA). They had representatives from NAB, AAD, Dish, and Direct testifying. AAD and Dish generally wanted the rules regarding provision of distants to be loosened. The NAB representative wanted the distant license to be eliminated from the new law. In other words, the NAB version of the law would simply eliminate satellite from providing distant stations.

When the NAB representative was questioned about short markets, he said that he was unaware of any short markets. The members of congress had heard enough from their constituents that they seemed to know about the situation with short markets, and the NAB representative lost some credibility.

#16 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 11:16 AM

I agree that the grandfathering should be customer based, rather than carrier based, but I think that that will have to wait until the next rewrite of STELA.

December 2014.

When the NAB representative was questioned about short markets, he said that he was unaware of any short markets. The members of congress had heard enough from their constituents that they seemed to know about the situation with short markets, and the NAB representative lost some credibility.

Some of the shortness was created by Congress when they decided to use market boundries instead of RF coverage to define markets. I don't mind expanding a station's coverage to include an entire market, but excluding a station's coverage simply because of a line on a map is not good. The 2004 law loosened that up a little with the addition of SV stations but it still didn't fix the issue. I wish we didn't have to wait five years between tweaks. Many short markets are solved by importing a neighbor who already has RF coverage (or should) of a portion of the market.

For those deep white areas where there is no local affiliate or close affiliate distants have their place ... but carriage is a government taking. Some network station is having their signal taken without their permission and rebroadcast somewhere they have no intention of being seen. The network itself is having their signal used where no affiliate is in place. It is the network's signal that they provide to affiliates under contract ... the distant's legislation overrides that contract with only a minimal statutory royalty payment.

Best case for broadcasters would be to have carriage of the most local affiliate to each customer. Perhaps not the closest station as some affiliates have a larger reach and better serve the distant corners of their states better than a station from the next state over ... but certainly better than a NY or LA station serves someplace they have never heard of.

Perhaps "distants" should go away by 2014 and the networks should work out some better way of getting their affiliates and signals to 100% of America ... even by redefining their affiliation agreement to include satellite carriage. I'd rather see it done through the cooperation of the providers instead of a government taking.

But I also understand that there are those who want every local from every market and don't see a reason to protect the network's affiliation agreements. STELA is probably a happy medium.

#17 OFFLINE   runner861

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 12:02 PM

Some short markets may be fixed by redefining the market boundaries to be consistent with the expected RF coverage, but not all short markets will be fixed that way. There will still be deep white areas, and even urban white areas that just are not covered by the expected RF coverage.

The idea of having the white area covered by a station that is nearby may not work in all situations. First, the law calls a distant a distant, whether it is a "near" distant or a "far" distant, the law makes no distinction. Second, it may be more efficient for a satellite carrier to have some distants on CONUS, rather than trying to spill spotbeams to areas where it may not be convenient to do so. Ultimately, the best idea in my opinion is to let the viewer decide whether he/she wants a "near" distant or a "far" distant. Some people want to watch the news or other programs from NY, SF, Chicago, or LA, and the importation of a distant allows them to do so.

Although the distant station may be imported to an area where the station had no intention of being seen, and the network had no contract to cover that area, that is still a good result. The alternative is that some viewers would be frozen out of our national discussion. The networks would not cover these areas due to high cost--low population and great expense of setting up a local station in the lightly populated areas. In the case of importation of a distant signal, the satellite carrier makes a royalty payment. No one is injured.

#18 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 12:23 PM

Some short markets may be fixed by redefining the market boundaries to be consistent with the expected RF coverage, but not all short markets will be fixed that way. There will still be deep white areas, and even urban white areas that just are not covered by the expected RF coverage.

ATSC TV does seem to have created some holes but for the purpose of choosing which local affiliate should fill the urban white area the most likely candidate would be the affiliate that covers the surrounding area.

Starting with locals and working out to nearby affiliates is a progression ... not a hard fast rule.

Second, it may be more efficient for a satellite carrier to have some distants on CONUS, rather than trying to spill spotbeams to areas where it may not be convenient to do so.

Spotbeams don't spill. They have coverage areas and fringes. Beams are not adjusted post launch to cover new areas. Power can be adjusted up to the maximum the FCC allows (which can help turn all of the fringes of a spot beam into "coverage" but can also interfere with the next spot using that downlink frequency).

If the beams are small they may not even adequately cover their own market (which is an exception that allows for distant carriage). In most areas the beam is big enough to cover it's own market(s), any SV areas and more.

Ultimately, the best idea in my opinion is to let the viewer decide whether he/she wants a "near" distant or a "far" distant. Some people want to watch the news or other programs from NY, SF, Chicago, or LA, and the importation of a distant allows them to do so.

Your opinion is shared by many who post here ... but not the potential subscribers who just want their satellite service to give them the local networks they could get via cable or OTA with the right antenna (and perhaps a time machine back to the days of NTSC).

The alternative is that some viewers would be frozen out of our national discussion. The networks would not cover these areas due to high cost--low population and great expense of setting up a local station in the lightly populated areas. In the case of importation of a distant signal, the satellite carrier makes a royalty payment. No one is injured.

The closer the station the more potential for relevant discussion. Yes, some local stations have failed to provide local news and issues - or just barely meet the FCC requirements - but a decent Michigan station is going to give better coverage of Michigan issues than a New York station.

The national discussion is carried on all network stations. It is what is between the national content that makes the difference. Given the choice of no affiliate and a distant NY/Chicago/LA the distant would win ... but if there is a more local choice - something from in state or close to the border - in most cases the viewer would be better served in applying that national discussion to what matters locally.

#19 OFFLINE   runner861

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 03:39 PM

Spotbeams don't spill. They have coverage areas and fringes. Beams are not adjusted post launch to cover new areas. Power can be adjusted up to the maximum the FCC allows (which can help turn all of the fringes of a spot beam into "coverage" but can also interfere with the next spot using that downlink frequency).


But what about large states, like California, where there may be another market to the north, one to the west, one to the south, and one to the east? Which market do you use? What if the spotbeam does not cover the entire area? What distinction does STELA make between neighboring markets and distants? I am not aware of any distinction. A distant five miles away is the same as a distant a thousand miles away, in the eyes of the law.

Taking a station without its permission and making it available in a market five miles away, or a thousand miles away, is the same thing. Besides, the distant stations being imported generally have no complaints. It is the local stations that do not want another station brought into a market, causing them to lose their exclusivity, that STELA protects. It is designed to protect the local station, not the distant station. A distant station being imported into a short market or a white area hurts no station and no person.

Your opinion is shared by many who post here ... but not the potential subscribers who just want their satellite service to give them the local networks they could get via cable or OTA with the right antenna (and perhaps a time machine back to the days of NTSC).


Perhaps these are the people who should consider purchasing cable, or a rooftop antenna. There is no reason that all the services should be identical. There will always be reasons why some people prefer satellite, other people prefer cable, other people prefer OTA. Distants may be one of those reasons.

#20 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 04:11 PM

But what about large states, like California, where there may be another market to the north, one to the west, one to the south, and one to the east? Which market do you use?

There seems to be enough spot coverage in California that one would have their pick. Do you have a specific California market in mind? Chances are the spot beam that provides that markets locals will have an out of market affiliate for any missing network.

What affiliate would a cable operator offer in that market?

Taking a station without its permission and making it available in a market five miles away, or a thousand miles away, is the same thing.

You are more likely to visit an advertiser seen on a neighboring market station than one in NY. Although many stations seem to desire money for permission to rebroadcast there is advertising value in reaching the extra people. Stations may complain about the taking of their signal but they'll accept the ratings points.

Perhaps these are the people who should consider purchasing cable, or a rooftop antenna. There is no reason that all the services should be identical. There will always be reasons why some people prefer satellite, other people prefer cable, other people prefer OTA. Distants may be one of those reasons.

With distants virtually unavailable in most of the nation (95% of television households do not qualify under the current law) I don't see them as a major selling point nationwide. Distants help in the places where nothing else is available or for RVs.

Satellite has been operating at a disadvantage for years ... some due to technology, some due to decisions made. STELA is a good step at leveling the playing field ... a better step than the old law. I believe most satellite customers will be happy.




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