As Commerce Committee considers updates to current video marketplace rules, Senator Markey pushes for restored access to Massachusetts stations in Berkshire County


Washington (October 31, 2019) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, yesterday sent a letter urging Chairman Roger Wicker (R- Miss.) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) to implement solutions for the thousands of residents in Massachusetts, Nebraska, and Wisconsin who lack access to in-state news, sports, and entertainment on broadcast television. Currently, thousands of television viewers in these states reside in “orphan counties,” counties that fall into Designated Market Areas (DMAs) that are based in other states. Some cable and satellite providers in these regions do not carry the out of market stations, such that viewers are unable to access the programming that is most relevant to them.


“In the states that we represent, thousands of residents are currently unable to watch the news, sports, and entertainment that is most relevant to them,” write the Senators in their letter. “As this Committee debates the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR), we request that you work with us to implement remedies to help our constituents impacted in these orphan counties… All Americans deserve access to local broadcast television content that is relevant to them.”


A copy of the letter can be found HERE.


Senator Markey has introduced federal legislation that will force the cable company Charter to engage in good faith negotiations with WWLP and WCVB to bring those stations back on the air in Berkshire County. Specifically, the bill authorizes a cable operator (Charter) to transmit any station that was retransmitted to viewers on December 1, 2016, including WWLP and WCVB, to subscribers in the Albany Designated Market Area (DMA), which includes Berkshire County, and forces Charter and the stations to negotiate carriage. The bill also preserves Berkshire County residents’ access to Albany, New York stations that provide relevant weather updates and important emergency information. Senator Warren is a cosponsor of the legislation, and Richard E. Neal (MA-01) has introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.