WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation Tuesday to reauthorize the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act, a law known as “STELA” that provides certain consumers access to distant broadcast television content by satellite.

STELA’s current authorization expires at the end of the year. In order to ensure a timely reauthorization so that satellite customers who cannot otherwise receive broadcast signals over-the-air do not lose access to their current television content, Leahy and Grassley are introducing the bipartisan Satellite Television Access Reauthorization Act today, which extends the law for another five years. If legislation is not passed before the law expires, approximately 1.5 million satellite customers could lose access to their current broadcast television stations.

“Consumers across the country benefit from having nationwide competitors to cable television. Rural consumers, including many in Vermont, rely on a healthy satellite industry that is able to provide service to customers where cable is unable to reach,” said Leahy¸ who will bring the legislation before the full Judiciary Committee later this month.

“My focus is on the consumers who stand to lose access to broadcast television content in the event that Congress is unable to pass a bill by the end of the year.  My bipartisan bill will ensure that those rural viewers are not left in the dark come December 31,” Leahy added.

“Many customers who rely on satellite service don’t have other options for receiving television service.  Reauthorizing this law is important so that the 1.5 million customers who are at risk of losing their satellite service come January will be able to retain access,” Grassley said.  “I look forward to working with Chairman Leahy and stakeholders as we move this bipartisan bill forward.”

The Judiciary Committee held a hearing on STELA in March.  STELA touches on both copyright and communications law and will require coordination between the Senate and House Judiciary Committees as well as the Senate and House Commerce Committees.  The House Energy and Commerce Committee reported a version of STELA on May 8.