Copyright Office Issues Letter to Congress on Effects of the Satellite Television Community Protection and Promotion Act of 2019 on the Satellite Television Marketplace
Issue No. 908 - July 21, 2021
On June 21, 2021, the U.S. Copyright Office issued a letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees on the results of its study regarding the effects of the Satellite Television Community Protection and Promotion Act of 2019 (STCPPA) on the satellite television marketplace. This letter is now available to the public.
The STCPPA makes permanent the satellite carrier distant broadcast signal license found in section 119 of the Copyright Act for certain network and nonnetwork stations transmitted both to recreational vehicles (RVs) and commercial trucks as well as to households in “short markets” that lack one or more of the four most widely available network stations. It removes other previously permitted uses of the license and requires that a satellite carrier provide local service in all 210 designated market areas (DMAs) if it wishes to utilize the license. Some members of Congress, in commissioning the Office’s study, noted their concern that, pre-STCPPA, section 119 may have provided “a below-market incentive for a mature satellite industry to restrict local news transmission.”
In its letter, the Office concludes that, for various reasons, it is too soon to identify the ultimate effects of the STCPPA on the marketplace. It notes that, in the wake of the STCPPA, overall use of the section 119 license has dramatically declined since 2019. However, it also discusses those factors exogenous to the distant signal license that affect whether a satellite subscriber receives distant or local broadcast signals, such as the increased use of the internet for television viewing and changing priorities of satellite companies in reaction to market realities.
The letter, in addition to the Office’s notice of inquiry and responses thereto, is available on the Copyright Office’s website at copyright.gov/policy/119/.