Legislation that extends satellite operators’ right to retransmit broadcast stations and also preserves cable’s compulsory license is an important step closer to being enacted into law.

The House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of the Satellite Home Viewer Update and Reauthorization Act (SHVURA). The bill also needs approval from the House Energy & Commerce Committee, and it still needs to be voted on by the full House.

That the Judiciary Committee passed it unanimously is a sign indicating the five-year extension largely preserving the status quo is likely to be passed, but even some of those who voted for it seemed to have done so reluctantly, and in five years, another extension may be less likely.

"These rights should be negotiated in the free market," said Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), as quoted in The Wall Street Journal.

“The cable compulsory license has for more than 30 years facilitated the payment by cable operators of nearly $4 billion in royalties to copyright owners to clear the rights to countless individual copyrighted television programs carried on the nation’s broadcast stations from coast to coast,” explained the NCTA in a letter to Congress supporting the passage of the SHVURA legislation.

American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew Polka said: "The bill is a good start. We appreciate that the House Judiciary Committee has recognized that smaller, independent and rural-based cable operators face different challenges and dynamics than their larger brethren in the industry. While that acknowledgment has been made, we believe the bill needs some further refinement to help small businesses who will be disproportionately burdened by many of the new provisions that were reached through negotiations between larger entities. ACA will continue its advocacy on behalf of its members as the bill moves through the process and looks forward to continued work with the Committee."

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•  SHVURA legislation takes a step forward
•  A-L plans convergence of IP, optical backbones
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