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An Open Letter to the United States Congress: Support the Next Generation Television Marketplace Act!
January 27, 2012
By Andrew Moylan
Dear Member of Congress:
On behalf of the 362,000 members of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I urge you to cosponsor and support H.R. 3675 and S. 2008, the “Next Generation Television Marketplace Act.” Introduced by Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), respectively, these important pieces of legislation would begin to untangle the complex web of regulations and preferences that exist in television service by repealing provisions that distort the marketplace and harm consumers.
The bills target several rules and regulations that were drafted decades ago and are ill-suited to the vastly more vibrant and competitive television market that exists now. First, the legislation repeals carriage-mandates of certain broadcast signals by cable and satellite operators. The bills also eliminate retransmission consent and compulsory license provisions, thereby placing negotiations between television content and service providers on a more level and clearly delineated playing field. These rules were intended to protect broadcasters from cable monopolies that simply no longer exist, and are counter-productive to negotiations between the two today. Finally, it cancels onerous limitations on media ownership that are not reflective of the wide variety of news and entertainment sources available to consumers in a given local area.
Taken together, these policy changes would go a long way toward remedying the damaging wars of negotiation that have left millions of consumers blacked out from the content they desire. Importantly, they would do so without resorting to further bureaucratic interference or government intervention. Some have proposed giving the Federal Communications Commission more power to guide retransmission agreements and the agency is currently considering tweaks to the system. But these approaches rely on the faulty assumption that rebalancing an uneven scale is superior to removing government’s thumb from it entirely. The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act rejects the former, heavy-handed approach and instead seeks to remove obstacles, not reconfigure them.
While NTU believes that Congress should undertake a more fundamental and wide-ranging overhaul of outdated communications laws to reduce regulatory barriers, the Next Generation Television Marketplace Act will provide a head start on the process while addressing a growing problem in need of a near-term solution. We commend Representative Scalise and Senator DeMint for their work and urge you to cosponsor and support these vital bills. Any roll call votes on H.R. 3675 or S. 2008 will be significantly weighted in NTU’s annual Rating of Congress.
Vice President of Government Affairs