Summary: S.303 — 106th Congress (1999-2000)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to Senate with amendment(s) (05/20/1999)

Satellite Television Act of 1999 - Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to state that the mandatory local television signal carriage provisions of such Act shall apply no later than January 1, 2002, to satellite carriers retransmitting any television broadcast station in that local market pursuant to Federal compulsory licensing requirements.

States that a television station may be required to bear the costs associated with delivering a good quality signal to the local receiving facility of the satellite carrier. Directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt rules implementing such quality signal requirement within 180 days after enactment of this Act. Makes this section inapplicable to the carriage of the digital signals of television stations by cable television systems.

Permits direct-to-home satellite service (DTHS) providers to provide the signals of one affiliate of each television network to any household that initially subscribed to such service on or after July 10, 1998. Requires the FCC to adopt procedures to be used by any DTHS subscriber requesting a waiver to receive one or more distant network signals. Provides a penalty for a DTHS provider that provides the signals of one or more distant television stations to subscribers in violation of this section. Outlines transitional provisions for current subscribers, including: (1) a moratorium until the end of 1999 on the termination of the provision of distant television signals by a DTHS provider; (2) continued carriage of such signals to customers located on certain contours of local network stations; and (3) a required rulemaking by the FCC to examine the extent to which any existing program exclusivity rules should be imposed on distant network stations provided to current subscribers. Allows DTHS providers to continue to carry the signals of distant network stations without regard to requirements under this Act in any situation in which: (1) a subscriber is unserved by the local station affiliated with that network; (2) a waiver is otherwise granted by the local station; or (3) the carriage would otherwise be consistent with rules adopted by the FCC. Requires an FCC report to Congress on methods of facilitating the delivery of local signals in local markets, especially smaller markets.

Prohibits a cable system or other multichannel video programming distributor from retransmitting the signal of a broadcast station except: (1) with such station's express authority; or (2) in the case of a station electing to assert the right to such carriage. Provides exceptions.

States that nothing in this Act shall prohibit the FCC from revising or reassigning designated market areas if done in the same manner and extent as the FCC's cable television mandatory carriage rules provide.

Amends Federal copyright law to state that the secondary transmission by a satellite carrier of a primary transmission made by a network station to subscribers who do not reside in unserved households shall not be an act of copyright infringement if that station was: (1) a superstation on May 1, 1991; and (2) lawfully retransmitted by satellite carriers directly to at least 250,000 subscribers as of July 1, 1998.