| Home > 106th Congressional Bills > H.R. 3615 (rh) To amend the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 to ensure improved access to the signals of local television stations by multichannel video providers to all households which desire such service in unserved and underserved rural areas by Dece...
H.R. 3615 (rh) To amend the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 to ensure improved access to the signals of local television stations by multichannel video providers to all households which desire such service in unserved and underserved rural areas by Dece...
Calendar No. 525 106th CONGRESS 2d Session H. R. 3615 _______________________________________________________________________ IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES May 2, 2000 Received; read twice and placed on the calendar _______________________________________________________________________ AN ACT To amend the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 to ensure improved access to the signals of local television stations by multichannel video providers to all households which desire such service in unserved and underserved rural areas by December 31, 2006. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS. (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Rural Local Broadcast Signal Act''. (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents of this Act is as follows: Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents. Sec. 2. Purpose. Sec. 3. Rural Television Loan Guarantee Board. Sec. 4. Approval of loan guarantees. Sec. 5. Administration of loan guarantees. Sec. 6. Prohibition on use of funds for spectrum auctions. Sec. 7. Prohibition on use of funds by incumbent cable operators. Sec. 8. Annual audit. Sec. 9. Exemption from must carry requirements. Sec. 10. Additional availability of broadcast signals in rural areas. Sec. 11. Improved cellular service in rural areas. Sec. 12. Technical amendment. Sec. 13. Definitions. Sec. 14. Authorizations of appropriations. Sec. 15. Sunset. SEC. 2. PURPOSE. The purpose of this Act is to facilitate access, on a technologically neutral basis and by December 31, 2006, to signals of local television stations for households located in unserved areas and underserved areas. SEC. 3. RURAL TELEVISION LOAN GUARANTEE BOARD. (a) Establishment.--There is established the Rural Television Loan Guarantee Board (in this Act referred to as the ``Board''). (b) Members.-- (1) In general.--Subject to paragraph (2), the Board shall consist of the following members: (A) The Secretary of the Treasury, or the designee of the Secretary. (B) The Secretary of Agriculture, or the designee of the Secretary. (C) The Secretary of Commerce, or the designee of the Secretary. (2) Requirement as to designees.--An individual may not be designated a member of the Board under paragraph (1) unless the individual is an officer of the United States pursuant to an appointment by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. (c) Functions of the Board.-- (1) In general.--The Board shall determine whether or not to approve loan guarantees under this Act. The Board shall make such determinations consistent with the purpose of this Act and in accordance with this subsection and section 4 of this Act. (2) Consultation authorized.-- (A) In general.--In carrying out its functions under this Act, the Board shall consult with such departments and agencies of the Federal Government as the Board considers appropriate, including the Department of Commerce, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. (B) Response.--A department or agency consulted by the Board under subparagraph (A) shall provide the Board such expertise and assistance as the Board requires to carry out its functions under this Act. (3) Approval by majority vote.--The determination of the Board to approve a loan guarantee under this Act shall be by a vote of a majority of the Board. SEC. 4. APPROVAL OF LOAN GUARANTEES. (a) Authority To Approve Loan Guarantees.--Subject to the provisions of this section and consistent with the purpose of this Act, the Board may approve loan guarantees under this Act. (b) Regulations.-- (1) Requirements.--The Administrator (as defined in section 5 of this Act), under the direction of and for approval by the Board, shall prescribe regulations to implement the provisions of this Act and shall do so not later than 120 days after funds authorized to be appropriated under section 15 of this Act have been appropriated in a bill signed into law. (2) Elements.--The regulations prescribed under paragraph (1) shall-- (A) set forth the form of any application to be submitted to the Board under this Act; (B) set forth time periods for the review and consideration by the Board of applications to be submitted to the Board under this Act, and for any other action to be taken by the Board with respect to such applications; (C) provide appropriate safeguards against the evasion of the provisions of this Act; (D) set forth the circumstances in which an applicant, together with any affiliate of an applicant, shall be treated as an applicant for a loan guarantee under this Act; (E) include requirements that appropriate parties submit to the Board any documents and assurances that are required for the administration of the provisions of this Act; and (F) include such other provisions consistent with the purpose of this Act as the Board considers appropriate. (3) Construction.--(A) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit the Board from requiring, to the extent and under circumstances considered appropriate by the Board, that affiliates of an applicant be subject to certain obligations of the applicant as a condition to the approval or maintenance of a loan guarantee under this Act. (B) If any provision of this Act or the application of such provision to any person or entity or circumstance is held to be invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, the remainder of this Act, or the application of such provision to such person or entity or circumstance other than those as to which it is held invalid, shall not be affected thereby. (c) Authority Limited by Appropriations Acts.--The Board may approve loan guarantees under this Act only to the extent provided for in advance in appropriations Acts. (d) Requirements and Criteria Applicable to Approval.-- (1) In general.--The Board shall utilize the underwriting criteria developed under subsection (g), and any relevant information provided by the departments and agencies with which the Board consults under section 3, to determine which loans may be eligible for a loan guarantee under this Act. (2) Prerequisites.--In addition to meeting the underwriting criteria under paragraph (1), a loan may not be guaranteed under this Act unless-- (A) the loan is made to finance the acquisition, improvement, enhancement, construction, deployment, launch, or rehabilitation of the means by which local television broadcast signals will be delivered principally to an unserved area or an underserved area (or both); (B) the proceeds of the loan will not be used for operating, advertising, or promotion expenses; (C) the proposed project, as determined by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, is not likely to have a substantial adverse impact on competition that outweighs the benefits of improving access to the signals of a local television station in an unserved area or an underserved area (or both), and is commercially viable; (D)(i) the loan (including Other Debt, as defined in subsection (f)(2)(B))-- (I) is provided by any entity engaged in the business of commercial lending-- (aa) if the loan is made in accordance with loan-to-one-borrower and affiliate transaction restrictions to which the entity is subject under applicable law; or (bb) if item (aa) does not apply, the loan is made only to a borrower that is not an affiliate of the entity and only if the amount of the loan and all outstanding loans by that entity to that borrower and any of its affiliates does not exceed 10 percent of the net equity of the entity; or (II) is provided by a nonprofit corporation, including the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation, engaged primarily in commercial lending, if the Board determines that such nonprofit corporation has one or more issues of outstanding long-term debt that is rated within the highest 3 rating categories of a nationally recognized statistical rating organization, and, if the Board determines that the making of the loan by such nonprofit corporation will cause a decline in the debt rating mentioned above, the Board at its discretion may disapprove the loan guarantee on this basis; (ii)(I) no loan (including Other Debt as defined in subsection (f)(2)(B)) may be made for purposes of this Act by a governmental entity or affiliate thereof, or by the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation, or any institution supervised by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, the Federal Housing Finance Board, or any affiliate of such entities; (II) any loan (including Other Debt as defined in subsection (f)(2)(B)) must have terms, in the judgment of the Board, that are consistent in material respects with the terms of similar obligations in the private capital market; (III) for purposes of clause (i)(I)(bb), the term ``net equity'' means the value of the total assets of the entity, less the total liabilities of the entity, as recorded under generally accepted accounting principles for the fiscal quarter ended immediately prior to the date on which the subject loan is approved; and (E) repayment of the loan is required to be made within a term of the lesser of-- (i) 25 years from the date of the execution of the loan; or (ii) the economically useful life, as determined by the Board or in consultation with persons or entities deemed appropriate by the Board, of the primary assets to be used in the delivery of the signals concerned; and (F) the loan meets any additional criteria developed under subsection (g). (3) Protection of united states financial interests.--The Board may not approve the guarantee of a loan under this Act unless-- (A) the Board has been given documentation, assurances, and access to information, persons, and entities necessary, as determined by the Board, to address issues relevant to the review of the loan by the Board for purposes of this Act; and (B) the Board makes a determination in writing that-- (i) to the best of its knowledge upon due inquiry, the assets, facilities, or equipment covered by the loan will be utilized economically and efficiently; (ii) the terms, conditions, security, and schedule and amount of repayments of principal and the payment of interest with respect to the loan protect the financial interests of the United States and are reasonable; (iii) to the extent possible, the value of collateral provided by an applicant is at least equal to the unpaid balance of the loan amount covered by the loan guarantee (the ``Amount'' for purposes of this clause); and if the value of collateral provided by an applicant is less than the Amount, the additional required collateral is provided by any affiliate of the applicant; and if the combined value of collateral provided by an applicant and any affiliate is not at least equal to the Amount, the collateral from such affiliate represents all of such affiliate's assets; (iv) all necessary and required regulatory and other approvals, spectrum rights, and delivery permissions have been received for the loan, the project under the loan, and the Other Debt, if any, under subsection (f)(2)(B); (v) the loan would not be available on reasonable terms and conditions without a loan guarantee under this Act; and (vi) repayment of the loan can reasonably be expected. (e) Considerations.-- (1) Type of market.-- (A) Priority considerations.--To the maximum extent practicable, the Board shall give priority in the approval of loan guarantees under this Act in the following order: First, to projects that will serve the greatest number of households in unserved areas and the number of States (including noncontiguous States); and second, to projects that will serve the greatest number of households in underserved areas. In each instance, the Board shall consider the project's estimated cost per household to be served. (B) Prohibition.--The Board may not approve a loan guarantee under this Act for a project that is designed primarily to serve one or more of the 40 most populated designated market areas (as that term is defined in section 122(j) of title 17, United States Code). (2) Other considerations.--The Board shall consider other factors, which shall include projects that would-- (A) offer a separate tier of local broadcast signals;
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