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TAB Pressing DC Agenda on STELAR, Performance Tax

- FCC Commissioner O’Rielly Set for TAB Show Aug. 7-8

TAB continues to advocate for Texas broadcasters’ primary policy agenda in Congress – preventing a Performance Tax on Radio stations and ensuring that STELAR finally expires at the end of the year. While the needle continues to point in our favor on one front, we face slight headwinds on another. As for the regulatory front at the FCC, Commissioner Michael O’Rielly is slated to share his insights on key policy concerns at the TAB Show Aug. 7-8 in Austin.

Meetings last week in DC with four key Texas members of Congress indicate growing understanding that STELAR’s objectives have long been met and, thus, that the measure is no longer needed. The Act was first adopted 30 years ago to allow then-fledgling satellite companies to grow into real competition for monopoly cable companies, as well as to give satcos time to develop “local into local” technology allowing them to deliver to customers their local broadcast Television stations.

Texas Television broadcasters are encouraged to drive those points in the coming August recess when members of Congress are in their districts, and Radio broadcasters are encouraged to press them to co-sponsor HConRes 20, the Local Radio Freedom Act which opposes adoption of a Performance Tax.

Freshman Reps. Dan Crenshaw of Houston and Van Taylor of Plano, both Republicans, are the latest to sign on as co-sponsors of HConRes 20 which is co-authored by fellow Texas Republican Mike Conaway of Midland.  They bring to 16 the number of Texans supporting Radio broadcasters on this issue, more than any other state in the country.

Where Texans in Congress Stand on The Local Radio Freedom Act

Scalise, Eshoo Gun for Local TV as Conaway, Olson, Ratcliffe Plan Exits
Taking a cue from their donors in the Pay-TV industry which recently began blocking thousands of subscribers’ access to dozens of local TV stations across the country, Reps. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, and Anna Eshoo, D-California, last week introduced legislation that would dismantle the retransmission consent system that ensures local stations are fairly compensated for their journalism and other community programming.

There is little, if any, support evident among lawmakers for that measure which has been months in the making and comes with just weeks remaining in the Congressional work calendar.

Meanwhile, Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Heath, a member of the House Judiciary Committee that has partial oversight for STELAR, was selected this week to join the Trump Administration as Director of National Intelligence. He is currently serving his third term in Congress.

If approved by the Senate, Ratcliffe’s seat, considered safe Republican territory, will be the subject of a special election.

Two other Texas Republicans in Congress who play important roles in broadcasters’ DC agenda have also announced their retirements.  Rep. Mike Conaway of Midland, longtime co-author of The Local Radio Freedom Act, revealed this week he’s joining Pete Olson of Sugar Land on the trail to retirement.  Olson serves on the Telecommunications Subcommittee and, like Conaway, has been extremely responsive to TAB concerns.

Conaway’s is a safe Republican district, but Olson’s is quickly turning blue.

O’Rielly to Keynote TAB Leadership Breakfast
Commissioner O’Rielly will participate in the policy keynote conversation with TAB Past Chairman Ben Downs at the Leadership Breakfast on Thursday. O’Rielly, who has pushed hard for deregulatory efforts at the FCC – especially on the outdated children’s television rules – will be the first commissioner to speak at a TAB Show in several years. The event’s timing typically conflicts with the FCC’s August meeting.

The Republican commissioner joined the FCC in 2013 after serving as a policy advisor in the Office of the Senate Republican Whip under U.S. Senator John Cornyn of Texas following a long string of Senate and House appointments beginning in 1994.

Working closely with Chairman Ajit Pai, O’Rielly has been a reliable champion for streamlining outmoded regulations and accelerating commission decision-making processes. For several years he has targeted children’s television programming rules as being ripe for modernization.

The Leadership Breakfast where the commissioner will speak also features the presentation of TAB’s Bonner McLane Public Service Awards to six Radio and TV stations for exemplary community service efforts, as well as the Lone Star Leader Awards to six other stations for their exceptional support of TAB’s Public Education Partnership program.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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