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SBCA Statement on Satellite Legislation

ALEXANDRIA, VA, Oct. 13, 1999 -- The Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association issued the following statement:

When the cable monopoly was deregulated earlier this year, it was with the expectation that new legislation would enable the Direct-to-Home satellite television industry to provide consumers with a more viable competitive alternative. As the House and Senate Conference Committee continues its work, the elements are in place for legislation that will provide consumers with the choice and competition they deserve. We are now, however, very concerned by reports that the House-Senate Conference may fail to produce satellite legislation that will provide this much needed competition.

As we have stated for a long time, the necessary elements for effective competition are local-into-local service and an improved and pro-consumer process for qualifying consumers to receive distant network signals. In their joint letter to the House-Senate Conferees, Echostar and DIRECTV, the two largest providers of DBS service in the United States, have eloquently restated the essential elements without which they cannot provide meaningful local-into-local service. SBCA is in full agreement with the views expressed by our member companies.

In addition, SBCA urges Congress to resolve the problems that have afflicted distant network signal service since the Satellite Home Viewer Act became law in 1988. Without Congressional action, the hundreds of thousands of consumers who have written and called Members of Congress for help, along with millions of other consumers for whom there is no near-term prospect of local-into-local service, will be deprived of the choice and competition to the cable monopoly that is the primary purpose of this legislation. Without effective

Congressional action, consumers who cannot receive viewable local network signals over-the-air and who will not be offered local-into-local service will lose or not be allowed to purchase distant network signal service via satellite. Those consumers will be forced to return to the cable monopoly. Many others living in rural areas not served by cable will be left with no network service at all.

Therefore, we continue to urge Congress to include in the final legislation the following elements:

Put in place the necessary elements to ensure that DBS service providers can offer local-into-local service which can compete effectively with cable.

Direct the Federal Communications Commission to develop a modern television signal reception standard to replace the outmoded 1950’s era Grade B standard.

Direct the FCC to establish the most accurate point-to-point predictive model possible for determining eligibility for distant network signals including measurement data for land use and land cover.

4. Prevent signal termination for current subscribers predicted to receive over-the-air signals of less than Grade A intensity.

5. Adopt a proposal to provide government loan guarantees to non-profit organizations in order to make it possible to provide local-into-local service via satellite to medium, small and rural markets.

The Members of this Conference now have the opportunity to make sure that the original goals of this legislation – to provide American consumers with choice and diversity in the multichannel video marketplace – are met. We urge them to move forward to ensure that this goal is achieved as rapidly as possible.

The Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association of America (SBCA) is the national trade organization representing all segments of the home satellite industry. It is committed to expanding the utilization of satellite technology for the broadcast delivery of entertainment, news, information and educational programming