WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, pushed congressional leaders in the House to take steps that would bring back local news access for many residents of Aroostook County.
In a letter on May 10 to the House Energy and Commerce and Judiciary committees, Golden encouraged committee leadership to allow the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization Act of 2014 (STELAR) to sunset, as intended. The move would allow many Mainers who receive their television service through AT&T and DIRECTV to receive currently unavailable local programming like news, emergency information, and weather.
“Our state has a proud tradition of hard-working, trustworthy local news stations who provide Mainers with critical information they often can’t get anywhere else,” said Golden. “Outdated provisions of the STELAR Act are denying many Mainers in Aroostook County access to critical information like local news, weather, and emergency alerts.
“There’s no excuse for this, especially during our harsh winters,” he said. “I’m pushing Congress to allow these harmful provisions to lapse so we can bring local news to everyone in The County.”
When STELAR was enacted in 2014, it changed the rules for consent negotiations between television station owners and satellite and cable system operators, according to a press release from Golden’s office. The bill also allowed satellite operators to import a distant signal of a network affiliate in “short markets” without a local affiliate of that network.
Golden said the Presque Isle media market, which serves most of Aroostook County, is one of 12 media markets that are currently unable to access local television networking from DIRECTV as an outcome of the STELAR. Since 2014, a handful of local communities have been unable to access local news, weather, and emergency information.
Golden’s letter is available here. Senators Collins and King also recently sent a letter in support of allowing STELAR to lapse.