Members of  the U.S.  House  of  Representatives  unanimously  passed  a compromise satellite reauthorization measure on Wednesday that would extend the direct broadcast  satellite (DBS) compulsory license through 2019. The bill also includes other provisions that may  constitute a first step in future efforts to reform the retransmission consent regime.

Introduced on Tuesday, the STELA Reauthorization Act (STELARA) is said to be the fruit of  bipartisan negotiations among leaders of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, the House  Communications & Technology Subcommittee, and the Senate Commerce Committee. In addition to  extending the compulsory license for five years, STELARA would sunset the set-top box integration  ban after one-and-a-half years and provide broadcasters with six months beyond the deadline  prescribed by the FCC to unwind joint sales agreements. STELARA would also require the FCC to  review its definition of “good faith  negotiations” within the  context of  retransmission consent  and establish a technical working group to make recommendations on a downloadable security system  that would replace the existing “CableCard” set top box security solution. Broadcasters would be  prohibited from preventing “significantly viewed” signals in other designated market areas from  entering their local markets. Moreover, the FCC would be permitted to act on requests to add or  subtract areas from a local television market in accordance with a market modification process  prescribed by the legislation.

Players in the DBS and cable industries welcomed the bill’s passage. Asserting that STELARA “makes  important reforms to the outdated laws governing today’s video marketplace,” DISH Network and  DirectTV proclaimed in a joint statement that they “look forward to working with Congressional  leadership to see this  reauthorization swiftly passed into law.” As the National Cable &  Telecommunications Association (NCTA) endorsed the provision to sunset the set-top box integration  ban, American Cable Association President Matt Polka singled out Senate Commerce Committee Chairman  Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Chairman-Designate John Thune (R-SD) for praise, noting that “many of  the provisions that made [STELARA] commendable originated in the Satellite Television Access and  Viewer Rights Act that passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee under their leadership earlier  this year.” To avoid a lapse of the DBS compulsory license, the Senate must approve STELARA and President Obama must sign the measure into law by December 31.