Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to House amended, Part I (04/07/1999)


Title I: Amendments to the Communications Act of 1934

Title II: Amendments to Title 17, United States Code

Satellite Competition and Consumer Protection Act - Title I: Amendments to the Communications Act of 1934 - Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit a cable system or other multichannel video programming distributor from retransmitting the signal of a television broadcast station, except: (1) with express authority of the station; or (2) in accordance with provisions of this Act which provide for the carriage of local television signals by satellite carriers. Provides exceptions. Requires the FCC to commence a rulemaking proceeding to revise regulations governing the exercise by television stations of the right to grant retransmission consent to a cable system or other distributor.

(Sec. 102) Requires, as of January 1, 2002, each satellite carrier providing secondary transmissions to subscribers located within the local market of a television station of a primary transmission made by that station to carry, upon request, all television stations located within that local market by retransmitting the signals of such stations as identified by the FCC. Requires the television station to bear the costs of delivering a good quality signal. States that such carrier shall not be required to carry the signal of any local television station that substantially duplicates the signal of another station which is secondarily transmitted by such carrier, or to carry the signals of more than one station of a particular broadcast network. Directs the FCC to prescribe regulations limiting the carriage requirements of satellite carriers with respect to the carriage of multiple local noncommercial television stations. Requires the satellite carrier to retransmit the signal of local television stations to local subscribers on contiguous channels and provide channel access nondiscriminately. Prohibits a carrier from charging for the carriage of such signals, except that such station may be required to bear costs associated with delivering a good quality signal to the facility of the satellite carrier. Provides remedies for local television stations alleging that a carrier has not complied with such requirements, with complaint determination by the FCC.

(Sec. 103) Directs the FCC to establish regulations that apply network nonduplication protection, syndicated exclusivity protection, and sports blackout protection to the retransmission of television broadcast signals by carriers to subscribers which are substantially the same as current protections afforded such retransmissions by cable television systems. Directs the FCC to: (1) establish a signal intensity standard for purposes of nonduplication rights; and (2) develop and prescribe by rule a point-to-point predictive model for determining the ability of individual locations to receive signals in accordance with the Network Nonduplication Signal Standard. Outlines nonduplication requirements, waiving such protection with respect to a subscriber who files with the satellite carrier a written waiver obtained from a television station allowing such subscriber to receive satellite retransmission of another station affiliated with the same network. Requires the FCC to review and revise the above standard and model. Requires a report to Congress.

(Sec. 104) Requires the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) to certify annually to the Board of Directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting whether a Board majority supports the secondary transmission of the PBS satellite feed.

(Sec. 105) Directs the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to complete an inquiry into the availability of local television signals in small and rural markets as part of a service that competes with or supplements video programming delivered by satellite carriers or cable operators. Requires a report to specified congressional committees.

(Sec. 107) Mandates completion within 180 days after enactment of this Act of a biennial regulatory review required under the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Title II: Amendments to Title 17, United States Code - Amends Federal copyright law to authorize a secondary transmission that is in compliance with FCC rules, regulations, and authorizations of a primary transmission made by a television station and embodying a performance or display of a work to have a statutory license if the satellite carrier makes a direct or indirect charge to subscribers for such transmission or to a distributor that has contracted with such carrier for direct or indirect delivery of the transmission. Outlines requirements for the appropriate consideration of a PBS satellite feed. Requires a carrier making such a transmission to submit to the television station involved a list identifying all subscribers to which such satellite carrier makes secondary transmissions of that primary transmission (requiring list updating as appropriate). Allows such list to be used only to monitor carrier compliance with this Act. Authorizes actions for: (1) willful alterations of the content of a particular program or its advertising; and (2) discrimination by a satellite carrier against a distributor.

Requires a satellite carrier whose secondary transmissions are subject to such statutory licensing requirements to deposit semiannually with the Register of Copyrights a statement of account and a royalty fee for such period. Waives such royalty fee for secondary transmissions of a television station to subscribers residing within the local market of such station. Provides for: (1) the investment of royalty fees paid; (2) the payment of such fees to copyright owners of works which were included in such secondary transmissions; and (3) royalty controversy determinations through the Librarian of Congress.

(Sec. 202) Reduces, as of July 1, 1999, the copyright royalty fees paid by satellite carriers for the retransmission of network and superstation signals by 45 and 30 percent, respectively.