Congress and the flawed STELA Legislation

Congress fails to fix STELA Legislation in 2020

COVID-19 pandemic and Bighorn Fire crises not serious enough for the Government to act

2 July 2020: I sent a proposal to Congressman O'Halleran to form a "FCC Market Area Modification Tiger Team". Team Members would include someone from each of the following: Congressman O'Halleran's staff, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors, the Federal Communications Commission, DirecTV, Dish TV, and as a neutral party, the Arizona Broadcasters Association, and myself. To expeditiously develop a solution that could be immediately implemented by Congress, the FCC, and satellite TV providers, I offered to Chair the Tiger Team. I said that I was experienced in managing large projects from when I was a manager on the Air Force Space Shuttle Program and as a defense contractor. I have also chaired committees working on critical issues. Congressman O'Halleran did not respond to my proposal.

The same day I submitted the Tiger Team proposal to Congressman O'Halleran, I informed the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) that I was resigning effective immediately from the IDA Dark Sky Places Committee (DSPC). Under my leadership in 2014, Oracle State Park was designated as the first IDA "International Dark Sky Park" in the Arizona State Parks system. I was asked to join the DSPC in 2015. In 2017 the IDA Board of Directors selected me to become the Committee's first Chair, a position I held until my resignation on 2 July. The "International Dark Sky Places" Program is the most visible of IDA's international public outreach programs. With nearly 150 Places around the world and more being added every three months, International Dark Sky Places provide locations where people can appreciate the beauty of the night sky and be educated on the harmful effects of Light Pollution. These effects include many human health impacts (to the tune of hundreds of millions dollars on healthcare costs each year), impacts on wildlife, wasted energy costs (several billions of dollars annually in the United States alone), and reductions in safety and security. And Light Pollution even contributes to Climate Change. While working to protect this planet is incredibly important to me (as it should be to everyone), as the FCC DMA "point person" in southern Pinal County I believe it is my responsibility to become even more active to protect citizens here. I resigned from the IDA Committee as I could no longer split my time and energy doing both of these critically important tasks.

It was obvious that the approach I had taken for the past seven and a half years of working with the Representative from Arizona's 1st Congressional District cannot yield the necessary immediate change in legislation to stop putting lives at risk and causing harm to local businesses. Even the COVID-19 pandemic and Bighorn Fire were not serious enough crises to motivate Congress to immediate action. I made a commitment to pursue an expanded approach to reach out to other influential Members of Congress and elsewhere to have Congress step up to its job to protect local lives and businesses.

During a Virtual Town Hall meeting held on 21 July 2020 by Congressman O'Halleran, I was disappointed with what the Congressman said and did not say when someone (not me) brought up the inability to receive Tucson TV stations in southern Pinal County during the serious Bighorn Fire threat. Congressman O'Halleran did not directly discuss the flawed legislation that has created this serious issue. Instead he talked about his efforts to expand Broadband access in his District. While expanding Broadband access is a worthwhile goal, his effort seems to be focused on the Native American areas in the northern portion of his District while ignoring the needs of the southern portion of his District. He, like many others in Congress, see the Internet as a solution to overcome the inherent dangers and unfairness of the STELA legislation. This completely ignores the facts that the Internet solution means that viewers must have reliable and high speed Broadband service (not necessarily true in rural southern Pinal County), must WANT to use the Internet (also not true for many citizens), and citizens would have to pay TWICE for TV reception. Many citizens want the benefits of satellite TV reception so they pay for that. But as the satellite TV providers are prohibited from offering "local TV" to many of their customers, these same customers would have to pay a second time for high quality Internet service to view their nearest TV stations. Yet viewing live local TV video streams on the Internet may not have the business advertising that is actually shown during the broadcast, thereby preventing potential customers from seeing these ads and so local businesses would still be harmed. Does Congress really think that the Internet solution is fair to Americans?

I significantly increase my efforts to get Congress to act responsibly

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