Sussex County Delaware

Dish Owners Could
Get Local TV

From Rep. Castle's Office ...

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Rep. Michael N. Castle (R-Del.) threw his support behind a bill that would allow satellite dish owners to receive local TV programming.

Rep. Castle voted for the House-Senate Conference Report, H.R. 1554 "Intellectual Property and Communications Omnibus Reform Act", on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 1999. The measure passed by a vote of 411-8 and would affect 24,000 Delaware satellite dish owners if enacted.

The conference report would end the 11-year-old ban that prevents satellite companies from carrying network programs in areas where local channels can be received with an antenna.

Satellite companies could not charge customers a copyright fee for this local signal and customers who do not receive local broadcast signals can immediately request and receive satellite television waivers quickly, Rep. Castle said.

"This bill will finally allow satellite companies to carry the signals of local network stations to Delaware customers who live in rural areas, especially those who can not receive local broadcast by using their TV antennas," said Rep. Castle. "They will no longer have to use rabbit ear antennas or put up with little or no reception of the network programs they want to watch."

The ban was established under the Satellite Home Viewers Act in 1988.

H.R. 1554 would also require satellite companies to accept provisions that mandate them to carry all local stations in all markets by 2002 -- the so-called must-carry requirements -- ensuring a full compliment of stations to the customer. The legislation also allows those subscribers who currently receive distant network signals and are scheduled to be shut off at the end of the year to keep those signals.

The bill would also establish a more accurate and fair process to determine which people living in rural areas are eligible to receive distant network signals by requiring broadcasters and satellite companies split the cost of testing the homes to see whether customers are eligible to receive signals from distant network affiliates.

The House of Representatives passed a similar bill sponsored by Castle. "The Satellite Copyright Competition and Consumer Protection Act", passed on April 27, 1999, goes to the Senate for approval and on to the White House for the President's signature.

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