Satellite TV Modernization Act OK'd by Senate Committee
"The Satellite TV Modernization Act," which includes technical updates for the digital TV age, was approved last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The House Judiciary Committee has already adopted a similar bill, and full Congressional passage is expected in the coming months. Among the bill's controversial provisions is one that instructs the Copyright Office to produce a study on phasing out the compulsory copyright license for satellite carriage of distant network TV stations signals. That mandatory licensing issue has been a bone of contention, especially as it deals with retransmission of broadcast sports events. Without appropriate approval, some viewers' TV sets could go dark when the existing license expires at the end of this year if Congress does not reauthorize it.Cable TV operators have sought to fix the "phantom signals" issue, which has required cable companies to pay a fee for subscribers who weren't getting the content. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) urged the satellite companies and broadcasters to work out an agreement themselves to resolve the issue before the bill goes to the floor.