An important item on the Congressional agenda this year is reauthorization of the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act (SHVERA). SHVERA, which passed in 2004, granted Direct Broadcast Service (DBS) operators a five-year statutory copyright license that enables them to carry the programming of local broadcast channels. The license is set to expire on December 31, 2009, and must be reauthorized by Congress if DBS operators are to continue providing subscribers with access to local broadcast stations (often referred to as "local-into-local" service).
We anticipate that Congress will soon begin holding hearings on the reauthorization bill and that, because the legislation deals with both copyright and communications issues, two committees in each chamber—Judiciary and Commerce—will assert jurisdiction and hold separate hearings. While SHVERA is primarily a copyright-oriented bill, we also expect that DBS, broadcasters and even cable operators will attempt to use the legislative arena to revise the retransmission consent process.