A discussion draft of yet-to-be introduced legislation that would extend  broadcast retransmission rights last granted to the direct broadcast satellite  television industry in 2010 was debated by lawmakers at a House  Communications & Technology Subcommittee hearing on Wednesday. The draft bill would extend for five years retransmission licensing provisions of the 2010 Satellite Television and Localism Act  (STELA) that are due to expire at the end of this year. Among other things, the draft legislation would require the  comptroller general to study the impact of a future phase-out of the compulsory satellite TV licensing regime and  eliminate the current ban on integrated security for set-top boxes that are marketed by multichannel video program  distributors (MVPDs). Although the measure would also prohibit television broadcasters in the same market from jointly  negotiating retransmission agreements with satellite TV or cable providers unless the broadcasters “are considered to be  directly or indirectly owned, operated or controlled by the same entity,” the FCC would be barred from treating shared  services agreements (SSAs), joint advertising sales agreements (JSAs) and similar agreements among TV broadcasters in  the same market as attributable ownership interests pending completion of the FCC’s quadrennial media ownership  review obligations under the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Endorsing the bill’s approach, a witness for DirecTV  suggested that the bill be strengthened to prevent broadcast station blackouts during retransmission consent negotiations.  A representative of the National Association of Broadcasters, meanwhile, voiced her belief that “free market regulations  are the most appropriate place to establish prices.” On the subject of joint agreements, there was partisan division  between the Republican leadership and minority Democrats. Although subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-OR)  argued that allowing the FCC to treat JSAs and SSAs as attributable interests before the media ownership rules are  updated would be akin to “putting the JSA cart before the media ownership horse,” ranking subcommittee member Anna  Eshoo (D-CA) said, “I find it contradictory that while the draft bill recognizes the anticompetitive nature” of joint  retransmission consent negotiations, the bill “gives tacit approval” to other joint actions by broadcasters. As he warned  that the bill as written would “hamstring” the FCC’s ability to deal with broadcaster joint agreements, House Energy and  Commerce Committee ranking member Henry Waxman (D-CA) also took issue with the provision to repeal the set-top  box integration ban, observing that the ban does not “even apply to satellite providers.”