Text: H.R.3615 — 106th Congress (1999-2000)All Information (Except Text)

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Placed on Calendar Senate (05/02/2000)

 
[Congressional Bills 106th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 3615 Placed on Calendar Senate (PCS)]

                                                       Calendar No. 525
106th CONGRESS
  2d Session
                                H. R. 3615


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                              May 2, 2000

            Received; read twice and placed on the calendar

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 AN ACT


 
   To amend the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 to ensure improved 
  access to the signals of local television stations by multichannel 
video providers to all households which desire such service in unserved 
           and underserved rural areas by December 31, 2006.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

    (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Rural Local 
Broadcast Signal Act''.
    (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents of this Act is as 
follows:

Sec.  1. Short title; table of contents.
Sec.  2. Purpose.
Sec.  3. Rural Television Loan Guarantee Board.
Sec.  4. Approval of loan guarantees.
Sec.  5. Administration of loan guarantees.
Sec.  6. Prohibition on use of funds for spectrum auctions.
Sec.  7. Prohibition on use of funds by incumbent cable operators.
Sec.  8. Annual audit.
Sec.  9. Exemption from must carry requirements.
Sec. 10. Additional availability of broadcast signals in rural areas.
Sec. 11. Improved cellular service in rural areas.
Sec. 12. Technical amendment.
Sec. 13. Definitions.
Sec. 14. Authorizations of appropriations.
Sec. 15. Sunset.

SEC. 2. PURPOSE.

    The purpose of this Act is to facilitate access, on a 
technologically neutral basis and by December 31, 2006, to signals of 
local television stations for households located in unserved areas and 
underserved areas.

SEC. 3. RURAL TELEVISION LOAN GUARANTEE BOARD.

    (a) Establishment.--There is established the Rural Television Loan 
Guarantee Board (in this Act referred to as the ``Board'').
    (b) Members.--
            (1) In general.--Subject to paragraph (2), the Board shall 
        consist of the following members:
                    (A) The Secretary of the Treasury, or the designee 
                of the Secretary.
                    (B) The Secretary of Agriculture, or the designee 
                of the Secretary.
                    (C) The Secretary of Commerce, or the designee of 
                the Secretary.
            (2) Requirement as to designees.--An individual may not be 
        designated a member of the Board under paragraph (1) unless the 
        individual is an officer of the United States pursuant to an 
        appointment by the President, by and with the advice and 
        consent of the Senate.
    (c) Functions of the Board.--
            (1) In general.--The Board shall determine whether or not 
        to approve loan guarantees under this Act. The Board shall make 
        such determinations consistent with the purpose of this Act and 
        in accordance with this subsection and section 4 of this Act.
            (2) Consultation authorized.--
                    (A) In general.--In carrying out its functions 
                under this Act, the Board shall consult with such 
                departments and agencies of the Federal Government as 
                the Board considers appropriate, including the 
                Department of Commerce, the Department of Agriculture, 
                the Department of the Treasury, the Department of 
                Justice, the Department of the Interior, the Board of 
                Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal 
                Communications Commission, the Federal Trade 
                Commission, and the National Aeronautics and Space 
                Administration.
                    (B) Response.--A department or agency consulted by 
                the Board under subparagraph (A) shall provide the 
                Board such expertise and assistance as the Board 
                requires to carry out its functions under this Act.
            (3) Approval by majority vote.--The determination of the 
        Board to approve a loan guarantee under this Act shall be by a 
        vote of a majority of the Board.

SEC. 4. APPROVAL OF LOAN GUARANTEES.

    (a) Authority To Approve Loan Guarantees.--Subject to the 
provisions of this section and consistent with the purpose of this Act, 
the Board may approve loan guarantees under this Act.
    (b) Regulations.--
            (1) Requirements.--The Administrator (as defined in section 
        5 of this Act), under the direction of and for approval by the 
        Board, shall prescribe regulations to implement the provisions 
        of this Act and shall do so not later than 120 days after funds 
        authorized to be appropriated under section 15 of this Act have 
        been appropriated in a bill signed into law.
            (2) Elements.--The regulations prescribed under paragraph 
        (1) shall--
                    (A) set forth the form of any application to be 
                submitted to the Board under this Act;
                    (B) set forth time periods for the review and 
                consideration by the Board of applications to be 
                submitted to the Board under this Act, and for any 
                other action to be taken by the Board with respect to 
                such applications;
                    (C) provide appropriate safeguards against the 
                evasion of the provisions of this Act;
                    (D) set forth the circumstances in which an 
                applicant, together with any affiliate of an applicant, 
                shall be treated as an applicant for a loan guarantee 
                under this Act;
                    (E) include requirements that appropriate parties 
                submit to the Board any documents and assurances that 
                are required for the administration of the provisions 
                of this Act; and
                    (F) include such other provisions consistent with 
                the purpose of this Act as the Board considers 
                appropriate.
            (3) Construction.--(A) Nothing in this Act shall be 
        construed to prohibit the Board from requiring, to the extent 
        and under circumstances considered appropriate by the Board, 
        that affiliates of an applicant be subject to certain 
        obligations of the applicant as a condition to the approval or 
        maintenance of a loan guarantee under this Act.
            (B) If any provision of this Act or the application of such 
        provision to any person or entity or circumstance is held to be 
        invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, the remainder of 
        this Act, or the application of such provision to such person 
        or entity or circumstance other than those as to which it is 
        held invalid, shall not be affected thereby.
    (c) Authority Limited by Appropriations Acts.--The Board may 
approve loan guarantees under this Act only to the extent provided for 
in advance in appropriations Acts.
    (d) Requirements and Criteria Applicable to Approval.--
            (1) In general.--The Board shall utilize the underwriting 
        criteria developed under subsection (g), and any relevant 
        information provided by the departments and agencies with which 
        the Board consults under section 3, to determine which loans 
        may be eligible for a loan guarantee under this Act.
            (2) Prerequisites.--In addition to meeting the underwriting 
        criteria under paragraph (1), a loan may not be guaranteed 
        under this Act unless--
                    (A) the loan is made to finance the acquisition, 
                improvement, enhancement, construction, deployment, 
                launch, or rehabilitation of the means by which local 
                television broadcast signals will be delivered 
                principally to an unserved area or an underserved area 
                (or both);
                    (B) the proceeds of the loan will not be used for 
                operating, advertising, or promotion expenses;
                    (C) the proposed project, as determined by the 
                National Telecommunications and Information 
                Administration, is not likely to have a substantial 
                adverse impact on competition that outweighs the 
                benefits of improving access to the signals of a local 
                television station in an unserved area or an 
                underserved area (or both), and is commercially viable;
                    (D)(i) the loan (including Other Debt, as defined 
                in subsection (f)(2)(B))--
                            (I) is provided by any entity engaged in 
                        the business of commercial lending--
                                    (aa) if the loan is made in 
                                accordance with loan-to-one-borrower 
                                and affiliate transaction restrictions 
                                to which the entity is subject under 
                                applicable law; or
                                    (bb) if item (aa) does not apply, 
                                the loan is made only to a borrower 
                                that is not an affiliate of the entity 
                                and only if the amount of the loan and 
                                all outstanding loans by that entity to 
                                that borrower and any of its affiliates 
                                does not exceed 10 percent of the net 
                                equity of the entity; or
                            (II) is provided by a nonprofit 
                        corporation, including the National Rural 
                        Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation, 
                        engaged primarily in commercial lending, if the 
                        Board determines that such nonprofit 
                        corporation has one or more issues of 
                        outstanding long-term debt that is rated within 
                        the highest 3 rating categories of a nationally 
                        recognized statistical rating organization, 
                        and, if the Board determines that the making of 
                        the loan by such nonprofit corporation will 
                        cause a decline in the debt rating mentioned 
                        above, the Board at its discretion may 
                        disapprove the loan guarantee on this basis;
                    (ii)(I) no loan (including Other Debt as defined in 
                subsection (f)(2)(B)) may be made for purposes of this 
                Act by a governmental entity or affiliate thereof, or 
                by the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation, or 
                any institution supervised by the Office of Federal 
                Housing Enterprise Oversight, the Federal Housing 
                Finance Board, or any affiliate of such entities;
                    (II) any loan (including Other Debt as defined in 
                subsection (f)(2)(B)) must have terms, in the judgment 
                of the Board, that are consistent in material respects 
                with the terms of similar obligations in the private 
                capital market;
                    (III) for purposes of clause (i)(I)(bb), the term 
                ``net equity'' means the value of the total assets of 
                the entity, less the total liabilities of the entity, 
                as recorded under generally accepted accounting 
                principles for the fiscal quarter ended immediately 
                prior to the date on which the subject loan is 
                approved; and
                    (E) repayment of the loan is required to be made 
                within a term of the lesser of--
                            (i) 25 years from the date of the execution 
                        of the loan; or
                            (ii) the economically useful life, as 
                        determined by the Board or in consultation with 
                        persons or entities deemed appropriate by the 
                        Board, of the primary assets to be used in the 
                        delivery of the signals concerned; and
                    (F) the loan meets any additional criteria 
                developed under subsection (g).
            (3) Protection of united states financial interests.--The 
        Board may not approve the guarantee of a loan under this Act 
        unless--
                    (A) the Board has been given documentation, 
                assurances, and access to information, persons, and 
                entities necessary, as determined by the Board, to 
                address issues relevant to the review of the loan by 
                the Board for purposes of this Act; and
                    (B) the Board makes a determination in writing 
                that--
                            (i) to the best of its knowledge upon due 
                        inquiry, the assets, facilities, or equipment 
                        covered by the loan will be utilized 
                        economically and efficiently;
                            (ii) the terms, conditions, security, and 
                        schedule and amount of repayments of principal 
                        and the payment of interest with respect to the 
                        loan protect the financial interests of the 
                        United States and are reasonable;
                            (iii) to the extent possible, the value of 
                        collateral provided by an applicant is at least 
                        equal to the unpaid balance of the loan amount 
                        covered by the loan guarantee (the ``Amount'' 
                        for purposes of this clause); and if the value 
                        of collateral provided by an applicant is less 
                        than the Amount, the additional required 
                        collateral is provided by any affiliate of the 
                        applicant; and if the combined value of 
                        collateral provided by an applicant and any 
                        affiliate is not at least equal to the Amount, 
                        the collateral from such affiliate represents 
                        all of such affiliate's assets;
                            (iv) all necessary and required regulatory 
                        and other approvals, spectrum rights, and 
                        delivery permissions have been received for the 
                        loan, the project under the loan, and the Other 
                        Debt, if any, under subsection (f)(2)(B);
                            (v) the loan would not be available on 
                        reasonable terms and conditions without a loan 
                        guarantee under this Act; and
                            (vi) repayment of the loan can reasonably 
                        be expected.
    (e) Considerations.--
            (1) Type of market.--
                    (A) Priority considerations.--To the maximum extent 
                practicable, the Board shall give priority in the 
                approval of loan guarantees under this Act in the 
                following order: First, to projects that will serve the 
                greatest number of households in unserved areas and the 
                number of States (including noncontiguous States); and 
                second, to projects that will serve the greatest number 
                of households in underserved areas. In each instance, 
                the Board shall consider the project's estimated cost 
                per household to be served.
                    (B) Prohibition.--The Board may not approve a loan 
                guarantee under this Act for a project that is designed 
                primarily to serve one or more of the 40 most populated 
                designated market areas (as that term is defined in 
                section 122(j) of title 17, United States Code).
            (2) Other considerations.--The Board shall consider other 
        factors, which shall include projects that would--
                    (A) offer a separate tier of local broadcast 
                signals;
                    (B) provide lower projected costs to consumers of 
                such separate tier; and
                    (C) enable the delivery of local broadcast signals 
                consistent with the purpose of this Act by a means 
                reasonably compatible with existing systems or devices 
                predominantly in use.
    (f) Guarantee Limits.--
            (1) Limitation on aggregate value of loans.--The aggregate 
        value of all loans for which loan guarantees are issued under 
        this Act (including the unguaranteed portion of loans issued 
        under paragraph (2)(A)) and Other Debt under paragraph (2)(B) 
        may not exceed $1,250,000,000.
            (2) Guarantee level.--A loan guarantee issued under this 
        Act--
                    (A) may not exceed an amount equal to 80 percent of 
                a loan meeting in its entirety the requirements of 
                subsection (d)(2)(A). If only a portion of a loan meets 
                the requirements of that subsection, the Board shall 
                determine that percentage of the loan meeting such 
                requirements (the ``applicable portion'') and may issue 
                a loan guarantee in an amount not exceeding 80 percent 
                of the applicable portion; or
                    (B) may, as to a loan meeting in its entirety the 
                requirements of subsection (d)(2)(A), cover the amount 
                of such loan only if that loan is for an amount not 
                exceeding 80 percent of the total debt financing for 
                the project, and other debt financing (also meeting in 
                its entirety the requirements of subsection (d)(2)(A)) 
                from the same source for a total amount not less than 
                20 percent of the total debt financing for the project 
                (``Other Debt'') has been approved.
    (g) Underwriting Criteria.--Within the period provided for under 
subsection (b)(1), the Board shall, in consultation with the Director 
of the Office of Management and Budget and an independent public 
accounting firm, develop underwriting criteria relating to the 
guarantee of loans that are consistent with the purpose of this Act, 
including appropriate collateral and cash flow levels for loans 
guaranteed under this Act, and such other matters as the Board 
considers appropriate.
    (h) Credit Risk Premiums.--
            (1) Establishment and acceptance.--The Board may establish 
        and approve the acceptance of credit risk premiums with respect 
        to a loan guarantee under this Act in order to cover the cost, 
        as determined under section 504(b)(1) of the Federal Credit 
        Reform Act of 1990, of the loan guarantee. To the extent that 
        appropriations of budget authority are insufficient to cover 
        the cost, as so determined, of a loan guarantee under this Act, 
        credit risk premiums shall be accepted from a non-Federal 
        source under this subsection on behalf of the applicant for the 
        loan guarantee.
            (2) Credit risk premium amount.--
                    (A) In general.--The Board shall determine the 
                amount of any credit risk premium to be accepted with 
                respect to a loan guarantee under this Act on the basis 
                of--
                            (i) the financial and economic 
                        circumstances of the applicant for the loan 
                        guarantee, including the amount of collateral 
                        offered;
                            (ii) the proposed schedule of loan 
                        disbursements;
                            (iii) the business plans of the applicant 
                        for providing service;
                            (iv) any financial commitment from a 
                        broadcast signal provider; and
                            (v) the concurrence of the Director of the 
                        Office of Management and Budget as to the 
                        amount of the credit risk premium.
                    (B) Proportionality.--To the extent that 
                appropriations of budget authority are sufficient to 
                cover the cost, as determined under section 504(b)(1) 
                of the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990, of loan 
                guarantees under this Act, the credit risk premium with 
                respect to each loan guarantee shall be reduced 
                proportionately.
                    (C) Payment of premiums.--Credit risk premiums 
                under this subsection shall be paid to an account (the 
                ``Escrow Account'') established in the Treasury which 
                shall accrue interest and such interest shall be 
                retained by the account, subject to subparagraph (D).
                    (D) Deductions from escrow account.--If a default 
                occurs with respect to any loan guaranteed under this 
                Act and the default is not cured in accordance with the 
                terms of the underlying loan or loan guarantee 
                agreement, the Administrator, in accordance with 
                subsections (h) and (i) of section 5 of this Act, shall 
                liquidate, or shall cause to be liquidated, all assets 
                collateralizing such loan as to which it has a lien or 
                security interest. Any shortfall between the proceeds 
                of the liquidation net of costs and expenses relating 
                to the liquidation, and the guarantee amount paid 
                pursuant to this Act shall be deducted from funds in 
                the Escrow Account and credited to the Administrator 
                for payment of such shortfall. At such time as 
                determined under subsection (d)(2)(E) when all loans 
                guaranteed under this Act have been repaid or otherwise 
                satisfied in accordance with this Act and the 
                regulations promulgated hereunder, remaining funds in 
                the Escrow Account, if any, shall be refunded, on a pro 
                rata basis, to applicants whose loans guaranteed under 
                this Act were not in default, or where any default was 
                cured in accordance with the terms of the underlying 
                loan or loan guarantee agreement.
    (i) Judicial Review.--The decision of the Board to approve or 
disapprove the making of a loan guarantee under this Act shall not be 
subject to judicial review.

SEC. 5. ADMINISTRATION OF LOAN GUARANTEES.

    (a) In General.--The Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service 
(in this Act referred to as the ``Administrator'') shall issue and 
otherwise administer loan guarantees that have been approved by the 
Board in accordance with sections 3 and 4 of this Act.
    (b) Security for Protection of United States Financial Interests.--
            (1) Terms and conditions.--An applicant shall agree to such 
        terms and conditions as are satisfactory, in the judgment of 
        the Board, to ensure that, as long as any principal or interest 
        is due and payable on a loan guaranteed under this Act, the 
        applicant--
                    (A) shall maintain assets, equipment, facilities, 
                and operations on a continuing basis;
                    (B) shall not make any discretionary dividend 
                payments that impair its ability to repay obligations 
                guaranteed under this Act;
                    (C) shall remain sufficiently capitalized; and
                    (D) shall submit to, and cooperate fully with, any 
                audit of the applicant under section 8(a)(2) of this 
                Act.
            (2) Collateral.--
                    (A) Existence of adequate collateral.--An applicant 
                shall provide the Board such documentation as is 
                necessary, in the judgment of the Board, to provide 
                satisfactory evidence that appropriate and adequate 
                collateral secures a loan guaranteed under this Act.
                    (B) Form of collateral.--Collateral required by 
                subparagraph (A) shall consist solely of assets of the 
                applicant, any affiliate of the applicant, or both 
                (whichever the Board considers appropriate), including 
                primary assets to be used in the delivery of signals 
                for which the loan is guaranteed.
                    (C) Review of valuation.--The value of collateral 
                securing a loan guaranteed under this Act may be 
                reviewed by the Board, and may be adjusted downward by 
                the Board if the Board reasonably believes such 
                adjustment is appropriate.
            (3) Lien on interests in assets.--Upon the Board's approval 
        of a loan guarantee under this Act, the Administrator shall 
        have liens on assets securing the loan, which shall be superior 
        to all other liens on such assets, and the value of the assets 
        (based on a determination satisfactory to the Board) subject to 
        the liens shall be at least equal to the unpaid balance of the 
        loan amount covered by the loan guarantee, or that value 
        approved by the Board under section 4(d)(3)(B)(iii) of this 
        Act.
            (4) Perfected security interest.--With respect to a loan 
        guaranteed under this Act, the Administrator and the lender 
        shall have a perfected security interest in assets securing the 
        loan that are fully sufficient to protect the financial 
        interests of the United States and the lender.
            (5) Insurance.--In accordance with practices in the private 
        capital market, as determined by the Board, the applicant for a 
        loan guarantee under this Act shall obtain, at its expense, 
        insurance sufficient to protect the financial interests of the 
        United States, as determined by the Board.
    (c) Assignment of Loan Guarantees.--The holder of a loan guarantee 
under this Act may assign the loan guaranteed under this Act in whole 
or in part, subject to such requirements as the Board may prescribe.
    (d) Modification.--The Board may approve the modification of any 
term or condition of a loan guarantee or a loan guaranteed under this 
Act, including the rate of interest, time of payment of principal or 
interest, or security requirements only if--
            (1) the modification is consistent with the financial 
        interests of the United States;
            (2) consent has been obtained from the parties to the loan 
        agreement;
            (3) the modification is consistent with the underwriting 
        criteria developed under section 4(g) of this Act;
            (4) the modification does not adversely affect the interest 
        of the Federal Government in the assets or collateral of the 
        applicant;
            (5) the modification does not adversely affect the ability 
        of the applicant to repay the loan; and
            (6) the National Telecommunications and Information 
        Administration has been consulted by the Board regarding the 
        modification.
    (e) Performance Schedules.--
            (1) Performance schedules.--An applicant for a loan 
        guarantee under this Act for a project covered by section 
        4(e)(1) of this Act shall enter into stipulated performance 
        schedules with the Administrator with respect to the signals to 
        be provided through the project.
            (2) Penalty.--The Administrator may assess against and 
        collect from an applicant described in paragraph (1) a penalty 
        not to exceed three times the interest due on the guaranteed 
        loan of the applicant under this Act if the applicant fails to 
        meet its stipulated performance schedule under that paragraph.
    (f) Compliance.--The Administrator, in cooperation with the Board 
and as the regulations of the Board may provide, shall enforce 
compliance by an applicant, and any other party to a loan guarantee for 
whose benefit assistance under this Act is intended, with the 
provisions of this Act, any regulations under this Act, and the terms 
and conditions of the loan guarantee, including through the submittal 
of such reports and documents as the Board may require in regulations 
prescribed by the Board and through regular periodic inspections and 
audits.
    (g) Commercial Validity.--A loan guarantee under this Act shall be 
incontestable--
            (1) in the hands of an applicant on whose behalf the loan 
        guarantee is made, unless the applicant engaged in fraud or 
        misrepresentation in securing the loan guarantee; and
            (2) as to any person or entity (or their respective 
        successor in interest) who makes or contracts to make a loan to 
        the applicant for the loan guarantee in reliance thereon, 
        unless such person or entity (or respective successor in 
        interest) engaged in fraud or misrepresentation in making or 
        contracting to make such loan.
    (h) Defaults.--The Board shall prescribe regulations governing 
defaults on loans guaranteed under this Act, including the 
administration of the payment of guaranteed amounts upon default.
    (i) Recovery of Payments.--
            (1) In general.--The Administrator shall be entitled to 
        recover from an applicant for a loan guarantee under this Act 
        the amount of any payment made to the holder of the guarantee 
        with respect to the loan.
            (2) Subrogation.--Upon making a payment described in 
        paragraph (1), the Administrator shall be subrogated to all 
        rights of the party to whom the payment is made with respect to 
        the guarantee which was the basis for the payment.
            (3) Disposition of property.--
                    (A) Sale or disposal.--The Administrator shall, in 
                an orderly and efficient manner, sell or otherwise 
                dispose of any property or other interests obtained 
                under this Act in a manner that maximizes taxpayer 
                return and is consistent with the financial interests 
                of the United States.
                    (B) Maintenance.--The Administrator shall maintain 
                in a cost-effective and reasonable manner any property 
                or other interests pending sale or disposal of such 
                property or other interests under subparagraph (A).
    (j) Action Against Obligor.--
            (1) Authority to bring civil action.--The Administrator may 
        bring a civil action in an appropriate district court of the 
        United States in the name of the United States or of the holder 
        of the obligation in the event of a default on a loan 
        guaranteed under this Act. The holder of a loan guarantee shall 
        make available to the Administrator all records and evidence 
        necessary to prosecute the civil action.
            (2) Fully satisfying obligations owed the united states.--
        The Administrator may accept property in satisfaction of any 
        sums owed the United States as a result of a default on a loan 
        guaranteed under this Act, but only to the extent that any cash 
        accepted by the Administrator is not sufficient to satisfy 
        fully the sums owed as a result of the default.
    (k) Breach of Conditions.--The Administrator shall commence a civil 
action in a court of appropriate jurisdiction to enjoin any activity 
which the Board finds is in violation of this Act, the regulations 
under this Act, or any conditions which were duly agreed to, and to 
secure any other appropriate relief, including relief against any 
affiliate of the applicant.
    (l) Attachment.--No attachment or execution may be issued against 
the Administrator or any property in the control of the Administrator 
pursuant to this Act before the entry of a final judgment (as to which 
all rights of appeal have expired) by a Federal, State, or other court 
of competent jurisdiction against the Administrator in a proceeding for 
such action.
    (m) Fees.--
            (1) Application fee.--The Board shall charge and collect 
        from an applicant for a loan guarantee under this Act a fee to 
        cover the cost of the Board in making necessary determinations 
        and findings with respect to the loan guarantee application 
        under this Act. The amount of the fee shall be reasonable.
            (2) Loan guarantee origination fee.--The Board shall 
        charge, and the Administrator may collect, a loan guarantee 
        origination fee with respect to the issuance of a loan 
        guarantee under this Act.
            (3) Use of fees collected.--Any fee collected under this 
        subsection shall be used to offset administrative costs under 
        this Act, including costs of the Board and of the 
        Administrator.
    (n) Requirements Relating to Affiliates.--
            (1) Indemnification.--The United States shall be 
        indemnified by any affiliate (acceptable to the Board) of an 
        applicant for a loan guarantee under this Act for any losses 
        that the United States incurs as a result of--
                    (A) a judgment against the applicant or any of its 
                affiliates;
                    (B) any breach by the applicant or any of its 
                affiliates of their obligations under the loan 
                guarantee agreement;
                    (C) any violation of the provisions of this Act, 
                and the regulations prescribed under this Act, by the 
                applicant or any of its affiliates;
                    (D) any penalties incurred by the applicant or any 
                of its affiliates for any reason, including violation 
                of a stipulated performance schedule under subsection 
                (e); and
                    (E) any other circumstances that the Board 
                considers appropriate.
            (2) Limitation on transfer of loan proceeds.--An applicant 
        for a loan guarantee under this Act may not transfer any part 
        of the proceeds of the loan to an affiliate.
    (o) Effect of Bankruptcy.--(1) Notwithstanding any other provision 
of law, whenever any person or entity is indebted to the United States 
as a result of any loan guarantee issued under this Act and such person 
or entity is insolvent or is a debtor in a case under title 11, United 
States Code, the debts due to the United States shall be satisfied 
first.
    (2) A discharge in bankruptcy under title 11, United States Code, 
shall not release a person or entity from an obligation to the United 
States in connection with a loan guarantee under this Act.

SEC. 6. PROHIBITION ON USE OF FUNDS FOR SPECTRUM AUCTIONS.

    Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, no loan guarantee 
under this Act may be granted or used to provide funds for the 
acquisition of licenses for the use of spectrum in any competitive 
bidding under section 309(j) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 
U.S.C. 309(j)).

SEC. 7. PROHIBITION ON USE OF FUNDS BY INCUMBENT CABLE OPERATORS.

    Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, no loan guarantee 
under this Act may be granted or used to provide funds for--
            (1) the extension of any cable system to any area or areas 
        for which the cable operator of such cable system has a cable 
        franchise, if such franchise obligates the operator to extend 
        such system to such area or areas; or
            (2) the upgrading or enhancement of the services provided 
        over any cable system, unless such upgrading or enhancement is 
        principally undertaken to extend services to areas outside of 
        the previously existing franchise area of the cable operator.

SEC. 8. ANNUAL AUDIT.

    (a) Requirement.--The Comptroller General of the United States 
shall conduct on an annual basis an audit of--
            (1) the administration of the provisions of this Act; and
            (2) the financial position of each applicant who receives a 
        loan guarantee under this Act, including the nature, amount, 
        and purpose of investments made by the applicant.
    (b) Report.--The Comptroller General shall submit to the Congress a 
report on each audit conducted under subsection (a).

SEC. 9. EXEMPTION FROM MUST CARRY REQUIREMENTS.

    A facility of a satellite carrier, cable system, or other 
multichannel video programming distributor that is financed with a loan 
guaranteed under this Act and that delivers local broadcast signals in 
a television market pursuant to the provisions of section 338, 614, or 
615 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 338, 534, or 535) 
shall not be required to carry in such market a greater number of local 
broadcast signals than the number of such signals that is carried by 
the cable system serving the largest number of subscribers in such 
market.

SEC. 10. ADDITIONAL AVAILABILITY OF BROADCAST SIGNALS IN RURAL AREAS.

    (a) Opening of Filing for Additional Translator and Low-Power 
Stations.--The Federal Communications Commission shall, in accordance 
with its regulations, open a filing period window for the acceptance of 
applications for television translator stations and low-power 
television stations in rural areas.
    (b) Deadlines for Notice.--The Commission shall announce the filing 
period window no less than 90 days prior to the commencement of the 
window.

SEC. 11. IMPROVED CELLULAR SERVICE IN RURAL AREAS.

    (a) Reinstatement of Applicants as Tentative Selectees.--
            (1) In General.--Notwithstanding the order of the Federal 
        Communications Commission in the proceeding described in 
        paragraph (3), the Commission shall--
                    (A) reinstate each applicant as a tentative 
                selectee under the covered rural service area licensing 
                proceeding; and
                    (B) permit each applicant to amend its application, 
                to the extent necessary to update factual information 
                and to comply with the rules of the Commission, at any 
                time before the Commission's final licensing action in 
                the covered rural service area licensing proceeding.
            (2) Exemption from petitions to deny.--For purposes of the 
        amended applications filed pursuant to paragraph (1)(B), the 
        provisions of section 309(d)(1) of the Communications Act of 
        1934 (47 U.S.C. 309(d)(1)) shall not apply.
            (3) Proceeding.--The proceeding described in this paragraph 
        is the proceeding of the Commission In re Applications of 
        Cellwave Telephone Services L.P., Futurewave General Partners 
        L.P., and Great Western Cellular Partners, 7 FCC Rcd No. 19 
        (1992).
    (b) Continuation of License Proceeding; Fee Assessment.--
            (1) Award of licenses.--The Commission shall award licenses 
        under the covered rural service area licensing proceeding 
        within 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.
            (2) Service requirements.--The Commission shall provide 
        that, as a condition of an applicant receiving a license 
        pursuant to the covered rural service area licensing 
        proceeding, the applicant shall provide cellular radiotelephone 
        service to subscribers in accordance with sections 22.946 and 
        22.947 of the Commission's rules (47 CFR 22.946, 22.947); 
        except that the time period applicable under section 22.947 of 
        the Commission's rules (or any successor rule) to the 
        applicants identified in subparagraphs (A) and (B) of 
        subsection (d)(1) shall be 3 years rather than 5 years and the 
        waiver authority of the Commission shall apply to such 3-year 
        period.
            (3) Calculation of license fee.--
                    (A) Fee required.--The Commission shall establish a 
                fee for each of the licenses under the covered rural 
                service area licensing proceeding. In determining the 
                amount of the fee, the Commission shall consider--
                            (i) the average price paid per person 
                        served in the Commission's Cellular Unserved 
                        Auction (Auction No. 12); and
                            (ii) the settlement payments required to be 
                        paid by the permittees pursuant to the consent 
                        decree set forth in the Commission's order, In 
                        re the Tellesis Partners (7 FCC Rcd 3168 
                        (1992)), multiplying such payments by two.
                    (B) Notice of fee.--Within 30 days after the date 
                an applicant files the amended application permitted by 
                subsection (a)(1)(B), the Commission shall notify each 
                applicant of the fee established for the license 
                associated with its application.
            (4) Payment for licenses.--No later than 18 months after 
        the date that an applicant is granted a license, each applicant 
        shall pay to the Commission the fee established pursuant to 
        paragraph (3) for the license granted to the applicant under 
        paragraph (1).
            (5) Auction authority.--If, after the amendment of an 
        application pursuant to subsection (a)(1)(B), the Commission 
        finds that the applicant is ineligible for grant of a license 
        to provide cellular radiotelephone services for a rural service 
        area or the applicant does not meet the requirements under 
        paragraph (2) of this subsection, the Commission shall grant 
        the license for which the applicant is the tentative selectee 
        (pursuant to subsection (a)(1)(B) by competitive bidding 
        pursuant to section 309(j) of the Communications Act of 1934 
        (47 U.S.C. 309(j)).
    (c) Prohibition of Transfer.--During the 5-year period that begins 
on the date that an applicant is granted any license pursuant to 
subsection (a), the Commission may not authorize the transfer or 
assignment of that license under section 310 of the Communications Act 
of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 310). Nothing in this Act may be construed to 
prohibit any applicant granted a license pursuant to subsection (a) 
from contracting with other licensees to improve cellular telephone 
service.
    (d) Definitions.--For the purposes of this section, the following 
definitions shall apply:
            (1) Applicant.--The term ``applicant'' means--
                    (A) Great Western Cellular Partners, a California 
                general partnership chosen by the Commission as 
                tentative selectee for RSA #492 on May 4, 1989;
                    (B) Monroe Telephone Services L.P., a Delaware 
                limited partnership chosen by the Commission as 
                tentative selectee for RSA #370 on August 24, 1989 
                (formerly Cellwave Telephone Services L.P.); and
                    (C) FutureWave General Partners L.P., a Delaware 
                limited partnership chosen by the Commission as 
                tentative selectee for RSA #615 on May 25, 1990.
            (2) Commission.--The term ``Commission'' means the Federal 
        Communications Commission.
            (3) Covered rural service area licensing proceeding.--The 
        term ``covered rural service area licensing proceeding'' means 
        the proceeding of the Commission for the grant of cellular 
        radiotelephone licenses for rural service areas #492 (Minnesota 
        11), #370 (Florida 11), and #615 (Pennsylvania 4).
            (4) Tentative selectee.--The term ``tentative selectee'' 
        means a party that has been selected by the Commission under a 
        licensing proceeding for grant of a license, but has not yet 
        been granted the license because the Commission has not yet 
        determined whether the party is qualified under the 
        Commission's rules for grant of the license.

SEC. 12. TECHNICAL AMENDMENT.

    Section 339(c) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 339(c)) 
is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
            ``(5) Definition.--Notwithstanding subsection (d)(4), for 
        purposes of paragraphs (2) and (4) of this subsection, the term 
        `satellite carrier' includes a distributor (as defined in 
        section 119(d)(1) of title 17, United States Code), but only if 
        the satellite distributor's relationship with the subscriber 
        includes billing, collection, service activation, and service 
        deactivation.''.

SEC. 13. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
            (1) Affiliate.--The term ``affiliate''--
                    (A) means any person or entity that controls, or is 
                controlled by, or is under common control with, another 
                person or entity; and
                    (B) may include any individual who is a director or 
                senior management officer of an affiliate, a 
                shareholder controlling more than 25 percent of the 
                voting securities of an affiliate, or more than 25 
                percent of the ownership interest in an affiliate not 
                organized in stock form.
            (2) Unserved area.--The term ``unserved area'' means any 
        area that--
                    (A) is outside the grade B contour (as determined 
                using standards employed by the Federal Communications 
                Commission) of the local television broadcast signals 
                serving a particular designated market area; and
                    (B) does not have access to local television 
                broadcast signals from any commercial, for-profit 
                multichannel video provider.
            (3) Underserved area.--The term ``underserved area'' means 
        any area that--
                    (A) is outside the grade A contour (as determined 
                using standards employed by the Federal Communications 
                Commission) of the local television broadcast signals 
                serving a particular designated market area; and
                    (B) has access to local television broadcast 
                signals from not more than one commercial, for-profit 
                multichannel video provider.
            (4) Common terms.--Except as provided in paragraphs (1) 
        through (4), any term used in this Act that is defined in the 
        Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 151 et seq.) has the 
        meaning given that term in the Communications Act of 1934.

SEC. 14. AUTHORIZATIONS OF APPROPRIATIONS.

    (a) Cost of Loan Guarantees.--For the cost of the loans guaranteed 
under this Act, including the cost of modifying the loans, as defined 
in section 502 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (2 U.S.C. 661a), 
there are authorized to be appropriated for fiscal years 2001 through 
2006, such amounts as may be necessary.
    (b) Cost of Administration.--There is hereby authorized to be 
appropriated such sums as may be necessary to carry out the provisions 
of this Act, other than to cover costs under subsection (a).
    (c) Availability.--Any amounts appropriated pursuant to the 
authorizations of appropriations in subsections (a) and (b) shall 
remain available until expended.

SEC. 15. SUNSET.

    No loan guarantee may be approved under this Act after December 31, 
2006.

            Passed the House of Representatives April 13, 2000.

            Attest:

                                                 JEFF TRANDAHL,

                                                                 Clerk.

                            By Martha C. Morrison,

                                                          Deputy Clerk.
                                                       Calendar No. 525

106th CONGRESS

  2d Session

                               H. R. 3615

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 AN ACT

   To amend the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 to ensure improved 
  access to the signals of local television stations by multichannel 
video providers to all households which desire such service in unserved 
           and underserved rural areas by December 31, 2006.

_______________________________________________________________________

                              May 2, 2000

            Received; read twice and placed on the calendar

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