Lawmakers pressuring satellite giant to carry local stations

Published: Aug. 7, 2019 at 9:09 PM CDT
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If you are a DirecTV viewer in South Central Kentucky chances are you'll only be able to watch 13 News stories on our website. That's because DirecTV pipes in CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX 'local channels' from New York City and L-A, but they don't beam local stations directly into homes in 12 remote areas.

Senator Rand Paul says it's because satellite companies get distant signals at a government rate far below the rate local channels can afford.

And he says the current satellite licensing agreement amounts to a government subsidy for corporations that have no compelling reason to receive them and come at a significant cost to my constituents who are unable to receive local broadcasts. He is asking that the current license be allowed to expire at the end of this year.

Ottumwa, Iowa is facing the same dilemma. Their U.S. Representative says Congress needs to ensure local TV is available to all satellite subscribers.

"I tell you, local TV, it's absolutely critical," said Loebsack, "we depend upon them to give us the news we need."

In fact, Representative Loebsack said Congress could force DirecTV to make a choice: carry local channels or drop the big networks altogether and lose out on top-rated shows and sporting events.

DirecTV, owned by AT&T, is the only satellite provider that doesn't offer local TV stations in every market. They declined Gray TV's interview request.

The package of satellite laws is reviewed by Congress every five years.

National and local stations want to scrap it, while DirecTV lobbyists want to make it permanent.

Lawmakers will need to decide what to do by the end of the year, and may consider broader changes to the laws governing the TV industry.

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