April 26, 1999
The Administration supports House passage of H.R. 1554, because it will
enhance consumer choice and promote competition in the multichannel video
marketplace. The Administration strongly supports provisions in the bill
which seek to eliminate artificial barriers to full competition with cable
by satellite service providers. The Administration has the following
specific comments and concerns about the bill and looks forward to working
with Congress to improve the legislation as it continues through the
The Administration is pleased with the provisions in the bill that will give the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) an opportunity to ensure that all consumers receive good quality network programming signals. The Administration, however, is concerned that the bill allows for up to 2? years after enactment of this legislation before the FCC adopts an accurate means of determining whether a consumer can receive an over-the-air network programming signal of acceptable quality.
The Administration supports the authorization of "local-into-local" network programming service via satellite and the phased-in approach for local broadcast carriage by satellite carriers. The Administration, however, is concerned that the FCC is not given greater flexibility to take into consideration the technical and economic impact on satellite carriers of the network nonduplication, syndicated exclusivity, and sports blackout rules. The Administration is also concerned about certain provisions in the bill that appear to cause recipients of otherwise legal distant signals to lose the right to continue to receive these signals.
The Administration is pleased that interim provisions in the bill attempt to deal with the short-term impact of the termination of subscribers' services pending issuance of new regulations by the FCC. The Administration, however, is concerned about the unfunded mandate on the private sector to provide equipment during the pendency of these proceedings. The Administration is concerned that the bill fails to address the impact of the transition to digital broadcasting on the Satellite Home Viewers Act and the new regulations required by the bill.
H.R. 1554 would affect receipts and direct spending; therefore, it is subject to the pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) requirements of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990. OMB's preliminary PAYGO estimate is being developed.