Congress and the flawed STELA Legislation

Efforts to overcome Congressional inaction

Arizona State Legislature support

15 November 2021: Earlier this month I contacted Neal Carter, recently appointed by the Pinal County Board of Supervisors as our representative to fill a vacant seat on the Arizona State Legislature. In part, I wrote:

My reason for contacting you now is to ask you, as a member of the Arizona State Legislature, for your support of urgently needed reform of the "Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act" (STELA) legislation. This Federal legislation prohibits satellite TV customers in southern Pinal County from receiving Tucson TV stations (30 miles away), while forcing them to receive only Phoenix TV stations (120 miles away). This ban means satellite subscribers cannot view the nearest TV stations with their local news, weather, sports, advertising, and local emergency information. This flawed, dangerous, and unfair legislation puts southern Pinal County lives at risk and harms Arizona businesses in both Pima and Pinal counties.

I have been working with Congressman Tom O'Halleran, his predecessor in the House of Representatives, and the Pinal County Board of Supervisors on this issue since 2013. Unfortunately, although everyone admits that the legislation is unfair and dangerous, Congressman O'Halleran, who is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that controls the STELA legislation, has continued to fail his constituents on this issue.

As the STELA legislation treats some citizens differently than other citizens, puts lives at risk, and harms local businesses and local consumers, those portions of STELA that negatively affect Arizonans might be unconstitutional.

Some members of Congress believe that the Internet is a viable alternative to just fixing STELA. While expanding broadband in Arizona is very important, the Internet is NOT the solution for citizens to receive their closest TV stations. It is more expensive than basic satellite TV, live local TV streaming is not available 24 hours a day, and out-of-state advertising is frequently shown during livestreams of news broadcasts instead of local advertising. The Internet alternative does not stop STELA from putting local lives at risk and doing harm to local businesses in Pinal and Pima counties.

I ask that you bring pressure on Congressman O'Halleran to take action on STELA Reform. If appropriate, the full Legislature should speak out to support Arizona citizens and businesses and demand urgent Congressional action to correct the dangerous and unfair flaws in STELA. STELA Reform is a complex issue, but Congress created the law and Congress can change it.

As was clearly demonstrated by the crises of the nearby Bighorn Fire and COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, STELA Reform is urgently needed. The next crisis could be weeks, days, or hours away. Congress must not continue to fail Arizona citizens.

I received the following response:

The television is being assigned via jurisdiction (Pinal County, all of it as a whole) instead of recognizing that that entity contains areas for which the assignment makes sense and areas for which it does not.

I would be very pleased to work with you on this issue. I remain at your disposition for a meeting to discuss this or to lend a hand however I can.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me, the pleasure would be mine.

Yours Truly,

Neal K. Carter, Esq.

We are now trying to schedule a conference call which will include Pinal County Supervisor Kevin Cavanaugh.

Update 30 November 2021

Scheduling a conference call with two government officials has been a challenge to match up schedules. However, Representative Carter from the Arizona State Legislature and I plan to discussing the STELA issue Wednesday morning, 1 December. I hope we can lay the foundation for urgent actions by the State of Arizona.

A New Plan is Formulated

Main Flawed STELA Legislation page

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