Federal law (section 119 of the Copyright Act) which gives direct-to-home satellite distributors such as DBS a compulsory license for the retransmission of broadcast television programming. The Communications and Copyright Acts specify the broadcast TV stations that satellite TV companies, such as DIRECTV and DISH Network, are permitted to carry. Congress has addressed satellite carriage of TV broadcast stations through a series of statutes:
the 1988 Satellite Home Viewer Act (“SHVA”);
the 1999 Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act (“SHVIA”);
the 2004 Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act (“SHVERA”); and
the 2010 Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (“STELA”).
The 1988 SHVA first established a statutory copyright license to allow satellite TV companies to offer access to broadcast programming via satellite to subscribers who were “unserved.” The 1999 SHVIA expanded opportunities for consumers by permitting satellite TV companies to provide a local TV station to its subscribers in that station’s local television market – commonly known as “local-into-local” service. The 2004 SHVERA expanded the statutory copyright license to allow satellite TV companies to offer “significantly viewed” stations in addition to local stations. The 2010 STELA, among other things, extended the distant statutory copyright license through December 31, 2014 and expanded opportunities for consumers by facilitating satellite carriage of “significantly viewed” stations.