At a hearing conducted by the House Communications, Technology & Internet subcommittee, executives of DirecTV and the DISH Network told lawmakers they would be willing to extend local broadcast channel service to all 210 designated market areas (DMAs) nationwide if both direct broadcast satellite (DBS) companies were offered “the right incentives.” Tuesday’s hearing was focused on renewal of the 2004 Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act (SHVERA), which subcommittee chairman Rick Boucher (D-VA) termed as “must-pass” legislation for this year. DISH Network CEO Charles Ergen and DirecTV Senior Vice President Bob Gabrielli appeared at Tuesday’s hearing along with representatives of the broadcast industry that included CBS executive vice president Martin Franks and NAB TV board chairman James Yager. Although Franks voiced support for reauthorizing SHVERA in its current form, Yager urged provisions requiring DISH and DirecTV to carry local channels in all 210 DMAs as proposed in legislation introduced earlier this month by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI). Stupak cited statistics set forth in the introduction of the Satellite Consumers Right to Local Channels Act showing that neither DirecTV nor DISH offers any local broadcast channels in 31 DMAs. Ergen pointed out, however, that the DMAs in question are “short markets” that lacked one or more local broadcast network affiliates. Explaining his company’s decision not to offer local network service in these areas, Ergen said that, because DBS operators are barred legally from retransmitting the signals of network affiliates in adjacent markets, it made no sense for DISH to carry an incomplete slate of major network channels as consumers would be unlikely to buy the service. Nevertheless, Ergen told the panel that DISH would be willing to provide such programming if retransmission laws were changed and if DISH received assistance in paying for technical modifications needed for retransmission. While defending his company’s actions, Gabrielli complained that local broadcasters “now routinely demand fees three times those previously paid” for retransmission rights, as he charged: “it does not appear that this additional money is being used to provide more or better local programming.” Noting that up to 20% of local broadcast stations lack truly local content, Ergen added that such stations should be excluded from retransmission requirements and that local stations that offer local content should be required to grant retransmission rights free of charge or at a fixed royalty rate.