Congress and the flawed STELA Legislation

Efforts to overcome Congressional inaction

Legal Actions Pursued against Congress STELA Legislation

2 May 2021: With the ongoing failure of Congress to act to fix the dangerous and unfair STELA legislation, I filed the following Consumer Complaint with the Office of the Arizona Attorney General.


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) "Designated Market Area" (DMA) regulation prohibits southern Pinal County residents from receiving Tucson TV stations (30 miles away) via DirecTV and Dish TV satellite providers. Instead the FCC requires that citizens only receive the Phoenix TV stations (about 120 miles away). DirecTV and Dish TV must comply with the FCC DMA regulation that puts all of Pinal County in the Phoenix TV market area. This flawed market area assignment means that some Arizona citizens can not view the nearest TV stations with local news, weather, sports, advertising, and local emergency information.

Government officials who do not live with the issue do not understand the seriousness of the issue. Officials who live in Phoenix would not tolerate being forced to receive only Tucson TV stations. Members of Congress who live in Washington DC would not tolerate only being allowed to only view TV stations in Philadelphia (124 miles away).

The FCC DMA regulation stems from the Congressional "Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act" (STELA) legislation. Since 2013 I have tried to get Congress and the FCC to fix the flawed, dangerous, and unfair STELA legislation and the FCC DMA regulation. STELA and the FCC DMA puts local lives at risk and harms local businesses. Unfortunately, our elected representatives in Congress have continued to fail the citizens of southern Arizona and not enacted legislative change, even with two local serious crises in 2020 (COVID-19 pandemic and the Bighorn Fire).

The legislation treats customers of cable TV companies differently than customers of satellite TV companies living in the same area, possibly making this part of the STELA legislation unconstitutional.

Some members of Congress want to believe that using the Internet to view local TV livestreams is an alternative solution to fixing STELA. This belief completely ignores the facts that the Internet solution means that viewers must have reliable and high-speed Broadband service (not necessarily true in rural areas), they must WANT to use the Internet (also not true for many citizens who worry about security), and they would have to pay TWICE for TV reception (once to their satellite TV provider for the benefits of satellite TV reception and second to their Internet Service Provider). Another reason that viewing live local TV video streams on the Internet is not a solution is that local business advertising shown during on-air live broadcasts is not always shown on the livestream, thereby preventing potential customers from seeing these local ads. In fact, out-of-state advertising is frequently shown on the livestreams. Not seeing ads for local businesses during livestreams hurts businesses in both Pinal and Pima counties, as well as consumers in southern Pinal County. Using the Internet is not an acceptable solution to immediately fixing the flawed STELA legislation and the FCC DMA regulation.

I ask that the Arizona Attorney General use the power of the Office to get Congress and the FCC to immediately enact appropriate changes to allow southern Pinal County citizens to view Tucson TV stations. The next crisis could be weeks, days, or hours away. With experts saying that Arizona is likely to experience another major year for wildfires, failure to act should not be an option.

Mike Weasner
Oracle, Arizona

4 May 2021: I received a "form letter" response from the Office of the Arizona Attorney General, which in part reads:

Thank you for taking the time to submit your complaint to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. We have reviewed your complaint but unfortunately are unable to take further action to resolve your matter.
Our Office represents the State of Arizona and is prohibited by law from representing individual consumers.

As I said in my complaint, "officials who do not live with the issue do not understand the seriousness of the issue". The AG's response just confirms that statement. And the AG ignored the fact that this issue affects many more citizens than just me. That is why the Pinal County Board of Supervisors is trying to work the issue. The saga continues.

15 May 2021: I have obtained a list of attorneys who claim to have experience in "Constitutional Law" supplied by the State Bar of Arizona. I will be contacting these lawyers to see if any of them are up to the challenge and willing to take legal action against Congress and the Federal Communications Commission. As the flaw in the STELA legislation harms multiple locations in the United States, the legal action might approach something similar to "Class Action".

17 May 2021: I began contacting attorneys in Tucson on 17 May. As of 31 May, none of these attorneys have acknowledged my contacts using their information available from the State Bar of Arizona. This does not leave a very good impression of the Legal Profession.

31 May 2021: Congressman O'Halleran now says STELA reform to protect southern Pinal County lives and businesses is "dead on arrival". Many of us disagree with that attitude. After his saying this Federal legislation was bad when he visited Oracle in 2018, he now owes his constituents here an explanation of why he has abandoned us and why Congress will not fix the flawed, dangerous, and unfair legislation that it created.

Members of Congress incapable of understanding local TV dangers they created

Main Flawed STELA Legislation page

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