STELAR denies Montanans access to local channels

Sunday, July 21, 2019

STELAR denies Montanans access to local channels

Letter to the Editor:

Don’t you think the time has come to stop subsidizing billion-dollar satellite TV companies and to instead provide us the viewers with the local news, weather and emergency information we need and not at an additional cost. It astounds me that Glendive, Helena and Direct TV subscribers today are left without the critical emergency information local broadcasters provide. Actually, “left without” aren’t the right words. The satellite companies won’t allow it even though they easily could. By denying us local broadcast TV channels, the companies collect a subsidy from the federal government. Sounds bizarre, right? But that’s the reality under an old law called STELAR — the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization. Since Congress enacted STELAR in 1988, last reauthorization was in 2014, television viewing habits have changed in ways that could make retransmission consent negotiations more controversial. Major Satellite companies have lost approximately 9.1 million subscribers since 2014 out of an estimated 92.5 million due the growing number of viewers watching broadcast television over the internet. Montana is a large state with hundreds of small rural communities.

Senator Tester, Senator Daines and Congressman Gianforte should not re-authorize STELAR so rural Montana can continue receiving all their broadcast channels, at the very least should modernize the retransmission consent rules, which currently favor broadcasters at the expense of consumers. My thanks to Senator Tester for putting the interests of his constituents ahead of big satellite company profits. It’s time to let these provisions expire and ensure that all Americans have access to the most accurate and timely source of community news, weather and emergency information!

Respectfully,

B. Renae Harrington

Billings, MT