WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski, are lauding a rule change by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would allow satellite subscribers in counties in multistate Designated Market Areas (DMAs) to have greater choice in the local broadcast news, sports, public affairs, political information and emergency information they receive. Currently, residents in Garrett County, Md., are grouped into the Pittsburgh, Pa., media market and cannot access local programing relevant to Marylanders. By acting on the Congressional mandates in the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR Act), the FCC will address the so-called “orphan county” problem by allowing, upon the request of a television station, satellite operator or county government, a particular commercial television broadcast station’s local television market to add or delete communities to better reflect market realities. This will allow the Garrett County Commissioners to petition the FCC to be added to the Baltimore DMA.
“Knowing about the weather or current events in Pittsburgh does very little for people in Garrett County, who deserve access to local programming that helps keep them informed on everything Maryland, from weather, to emergency updates, sports and beyond,” said Senator Cardin. “This FCC decision will allow Garrett County satellite subscribers to access programming that is relevant to them. It is a long overdue step in ensuring all Marylanders have the information they need to make critically important decisions in their daily lives. Team Maryland will continue to work with Garrett County officials to ensure that the FCC is responsive in meeting the needs of all Marylanders.”
“Communities and families in Garrett County rely on local television broadcasts for up-to-the-minute information, from critical emergency-preparedness announcements to everyday news-you-can-use,” Senator Mikulski said. “This FCC rule change will better help Western Maryland residents access the tools and resources they need to know what’s happening in their own neighborhoods. I will continue to fight for the day-to-day needs of all Marylanders, working hard so they have a government on their side.”