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Senate Panel Tackles Royalty Rates, Sat Legislation

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#1 OFFLINE   Chris Blount

Chris Blount

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Posted 13 May 2004 - 05:17 AM

Copyright royalty rates satellite TV companies pay for superstation and distant network programming was the big issue at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on key satellite TV legislation Wednesday.

Satellite TV interests testifying before the panel expressed concern that those rates could see an increase, and questioned whether the rates are consistent with what cable pays for the same programming. The hearing, led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, scrutinized Satellite Home Viewer Extension Act, which he introduced in January.

EchoStar CEO Charles Ergen said royalty rates satellite TV pays are higher than what cable is paying for the same programming. Uniform rates and a uniform method for adjusting rates would achieve parity between satellite and cable, he said.

DirecTV Vice Chairman Eddy Hartenstein said his company is concerned about any proposed increase in satellite TV royalty rates with no similar increase in the rates paid by cable operators. "We are deeply troubled by the prospect of programming rate increases, as well as by the prospect of participating in an admittedly flawed, distracting, and extremely expensive CARP (Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel) process – neither of which would apply to our chief competitors, the dominant cable operators," he said.

Hatch said there needs to be a reasonable adjustment of copyright royalty rates, and he endorsed the approach recently taken in the House Judiciary Committee, in which a Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel would determine the rate, and it would then be subject to Congressionally-mandated discounts.

Fritz Attaway of the Motion Picture Association of America also said at the hearing there needs to be a copyright royalty rate adjustment that would fairly compensate program owners and not harm consumers. Attaway also disputed claims from satellite TV companies that they pay higher compulsory license royalties than cable systems.

Also during the hearing, Hatch said satellite TV providers should be allowed to deliver significantly viewed stations to subscribers in the same manner cable companies do to outside markets.

http://www.skyreport.com (Used with permission)

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