Letters to the editor

Editor, the Advocate:

Conveniently positioned between Austin, Corpus Christi, Houston and San Antonio, Victoria serves as home for 60,000 residents and many visitors. From backyard barbecues to afternoon river adventures, our community has plenty to offer.

The distinctive blend between agricultural small town and urban Texan is part of what makes Victoria such a great place to call home.

In communities like this, it is important to celebrate what makes us unique and to know what is happening within the region daily. Whether it’s to-the-minute hurricane updates, reports on field conditions in the countryside or announcements about the ballet downtown, local broadcasters play a key role in keeping our community connected.

In today’s age, it is also important to know what is going on regionally, nationally, or internationally. But at the end of the day, local weather conditions and the safety of our families and loved ones are, and should be, of highest priority.

Unfortunately, Victoria viewers are being denied access to their local broadcast channels due to legislation known as the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR). This policy, enacted in 1988, provides financial subsidies to satellite television broadcasting companies such as DISH and DirecTV and encourages them to import big city news programming from New York or L.A. rather than allowing customers access to their local broadcasting stations. At the time, STELAR was designed to give satellite companies an initial boost against established cable companies and help them bring television programming to underserved rural communities.

Over the years DISH and DirecTV have blossomed into successful corporations and have helped bring television programming to numerous communities across the country, to the tune of billions of dollars in profit. Technology today is far more advanced than what STELAR accounted for, and there is no reason these corporations should be allowed to restrict viewer access to local broadcasting in their own communities, simply to make more money in the process.

It is time for these satellite behemoths to stand on their own and compete fairly in the free market.

To achieve this, all Congress has to do is allow STELAR to expire at the end of 2019. This legislation was designed to be a temporary support, not an endless revenue stream for satellite companies.

It is time to allow our Victoria viewers access to local broadcasters and their reports on issues actually relevant to Victoria.

Pat Kopecki, Stockdale

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