EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – AT&T warns subscribers that DIRECTV could lose access to local channels once the STELA (Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act) expires.
The STELA is what provides access to local channels to satellite services including AT&T and DISH, but it is scheduled to expire a little over a week from now. According to AT&T, once the STELA expires, DIRECTV won’t have access to local channels anymore.
A new bill they call the Television Viewer Protection Act and the Satellite Television Community Protection and Promotion Act of 2019 was approved by the House. However, according to AT&T, the new bill, unlike the STAL, didn’t reckon to add a provision that hard-arms broadcasters to offer their local channels to satellite services.
James Cicconi, Senior Executive VP at AT&T, said that instead of Congress looking for ways to address the issue, it had bowed to the broadcaster’s demands to eliminate the STELA rule instead. He further stated that the move of the Congress removes the access to local broadcast channels that consumers are receiving today, and might be the sole reason when the time comes that consumer’s screens go dark.
AT&T strongly holds its ground asking Congress to force local broadcasters to offer their channels to AT&T along with other satellite services.
Cicconi said that if broadcasters wanted to have a debate in regards to their free-market economics principle, they are well prepared. But, according to Cicconi, all issues should be placed on the table, which includes the free spectrum grant of the public now given to broadcasters alone. He said that all issues should be talked about including the problem of allowing the local broadcaster’s monopoly rights in certain regions, which is far from the free market concept they to reason with.
When satellite TV was new, many services didn’t include local channels in their lineup, and with the expiration of the STELA rule, those days could return soon, said AT&T.