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Retransmission reform on a fast track?

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The leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee may be looking for input from the industry on potential reforms to the retransmission consent rules, as I flagged in post last week, but their counterparts in the House of Representatives aren’t waiting to hear back.

According to reports from Capitol Hill, members of the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee were preparing to meet to Monday evening to discuss which of several reform proposals to include in a draft version of a bill to reauthorize the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA), which is set to expire at the end of this year.

The provisions reportedly under consideration track closely with those included in the letter sent last week by the Senate Commerce leadership seeking input from broadcasters, cable and satellite operators, think tanks and public interest groups and a set of proposals that would tip the balance of negotiating leverage in retransmission consent agreements decidedly away from broadcasters if enacted.

By moving first, the House could bring the issue to a head more quickly than the Senate’s approach contemplated. Reports of the move sent broadcast industry lobbyists into a frenzy of activity Monday to try to keep the reform provisions out of the STELA reauthorization bill — perhaps the only piece of telecommunications legislation likely to be passed this election year.

“If these reports are true, NAB will lobby aggressively against the legislation,” NAB spokesperson Dennis Wharton told TV NewsCheck.