WASHINGTON, D.C.—House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) reintroduced the Next Generation Television Marketplace Act in July to reform regulations that govern the television marketplace and create a consumer-driven, free market system. Industry and thought leaders have advocated for modernizing the video marketplace for years. Read below to see what they’re saying.
By Randolph J. May
In December 2011, Rep. Steve Scalise, Louisiana Republican, introduced the “Next Generation Television Marketplace Act” to deregulate the nation’s decades-old, bucketful of rusty regulations that govern the distribution of video programming by cable companies, satellite operators, and broadcasters. At the time the bill was introduced in 2011, I said it “would get rid of all the protectionist video regulations enacted during a now bygone era.” And I emphasized that whatever consumer protection justification existed when these regulations were adopted, such justification “no longer exists.”
Well, as Congress would have it, the bill didn’t go anywhere. But on July 23, Mr. Scalise — now House Majority Whip — reintroduced the bill, not only with the same name but in virtually the same form. The case for adoption of the “Next Generation Television Marketplace Act” is even more compelling now than when it was first introduced.
In today’s video marketplace, with its never-before-witnessed abundance of media and diversity of voices — including the Internet — adoption of a bill like Mr. Scalise’s would bolster free market competition and free speech. Consumers would benefit from the regulatory unshackling of traditional video programming distributors. And those who understand the First Amendment’s place in our constitutional system should be pleased with less government intervention in the media marketplace.
The need for such level-setting in the video space is greater than ever before. Comprehensive legislative reform would have several important impacts.
First, it would remove much of the market-distorting leverage possessed by broadcasters in retransmission negotiations, thereby allowing actual competitive forces to guide carriage agreements with MVPDs. Contrary to assertions by broadcasters, the current system of forced negotiations is not consistent with “free market” principles.
Industry and thought leaders supporting reform:
“As the former President of an association of local TV Stations, former President of Network Distribution for Fox, former President of the ABC Television Network, former Executive VP of The Walt Disney Company and a former Law Professor, I write to strongly support House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s Bill, The Next Generation Television Act. This bill gets it exactly right. His bill would repeal a steaming pile of outdated, conflicting and unnecessary government interventions into the market for distributing television programming. Of all the critical functions for which we need the federal government, managing and pricing the distribution of TV programs is not one of them! The Scalise bill would enable perfectly capable market forces to assure that consumers have access to the widest possible array of television programming from the widest possible array of distribution platforms. And it would be fair to all industry segments.” – Preston Padden, Principal, Boulder Thinking, LLC
“Even as viewing options multiply from new sources, America’s traditional video marketplace—broadcast television, cable TV, and satellite TV—remains encumbered with many layers of federal regulation. This prevents a truly free market in video programming from developing and simultaneously threatens to extend old regulations to new online platforms and services… The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act aims to clear the deck of archaic rules.” – Adam Thierer, Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center, George Mason University. Video Marketplace Deregulation: The Battle Over Spectrum Policy and Retransmission Consent Reform (2012)
“The video market and consumer preferences are transitioning rapidly. We applaud Whip Scalise for introducing legislation that takes a deregulatory approach to the video marketplace and eliminates outdated rules that hurt competition.” – David Bartlett, Vice President of Federal Government Affairs, CenturyLink
“Charter applauds Majority Whip Steve Scalise for reintroducing the Next Generation Television Marketplace Act. Congressman Scalise is rightly reexamining a broken system that has resulted in retransmission consent fees rising exponentially over the last decade. We look forward to working with him and his colleagues in Congress to reform the outdated rules and better protect consumers.”– Charter Communications
“The video marketplace has outgrown the 1992 Cable Act. Consumers watch, create and interact with video whenever and wherever they want it. Majority Whip Scalise’s bill recognizes this and appropriately sunsets a decades-old video law that makes no sense today. We look forward to working with the Majority Whip and others to ensure continued innovation and choice for consumers.” – Tim McKone, Executive Vice President of Federal Relations, AT&T
“NTCA appreciates Congressman Scalise’s willingness to take on the difficult issue of updating video policy by introducing this legislation. As consumer consumption of video continues to evolve, it is essential to examine video marketplace failures and consider updates to existing laws and regulations, especially in rural areas where many residents can’t receive broadcast signals. We look forward to engaging in this important discussion with Congress, and ultimately to the passage of legislation that will address the critical shortcomings in the existing rules governing this marketplace.” – Shirley Bloomfield, Chief Executive Officer, NTCA
“With the introduction of the ‘Next Generation Television Marketplace Act’ of 2018, Whip Scalise reinvigorated the conversation about video marketplace regulations. The video landscape is constantly shifting and consumers need – demand – modern rules that govern how we access and pay for video content. This is an important, contemporary conversation, and hopefully the introduction of this legislation will spur further discussion on how best to apply modern, practical rules to this dynamic and evolving industry.” – Jonathan Spalter, President & CEO, USTelecom
“ACA applauds Rep. Scalise for introducing legislation designed to overhaul archaic media laws and policies. The Scalise bill, to its credit, will prompt lawmakers and stakeholders to begin important conversations that should result in legislation next year that will truly serve the public interest. ACA looks forward to working with Rep. Scalise and others as this bill and other legislation advance. Nothing short of sweeping action is necessary in today’s marketplace where outdated regulations permit the large corporate broadcasters to take advantage of small cable operators and their customers. ACA is pleased Rep. Scalise is committed to ensuring that communications policies will spur investment, innovation, and consumer choice.” – Matthew M. Polka, President and CEO, American Cable Association
“The regulations used to govern the video marketplace are out of date and no longer reflect the options and ways consumers obtain and view their content. Congress should consider the changing technology enabled by a growing Internet ecosystem as they create a new video marketplace framework. We thank Representative Scalise for introducing the, “Next Generation Television Marketplace Act.” This legislation will begin the conversation to modernize our nation’s video policies as the marketplace responds to rapidly changing consumer demands.” – Robert Fisher, Senior Vice President of Federal Government Relations, Verizon
“ITTA commends Congressman Steve Scalise for introducing the “Next Generation Television Marketplace Act.” Introduction of Rep. Scalise’s bill is an important first step in the long overdue process of updating the outdated regulatory framework that governs today’s video marketplace. ITTA encourages the leadership of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to begin holding hearings on the status of the video marketplace. ITTA urges the Committee to focus specifically on how access to content is a key economic driver in increasing broadband deployment to rural America.” – Genny Morelli, President, ITTA
“The legislation proposed by Rep. Scalise is a vehicle for opening dialogue concerning outdated policies that are harmful to both consumers and carriers. We applaud Rep. Scalise for starting the conversation to alter laws and initiate change in an arena where there is a real need for transformation. We look forward to having the opportunity to provide input on this legislation that would help benefit customers of Ritter Communications. We encourage the House Energy and Commerce Committee to schedule hearings on this bill at the earliest convenience.”– Ritter Communications
“DISH commends Rep. Scalise for his continued leadership on behalf of consumers. The broken retransmission consent regime is in dire need of comprehensive reform, and customers have been left paying the price through broadcaster blackouts and skyrocketing retransmission consent rates.” – Jeff Blum, Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs, DISH
“The American Television Alliance, a voice for the TV viewer, commends Congressman Steve Scalise for his thoughtful leadership to reform and update America’s broken and outdated video laws. The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act will jumpstart and elevate a long-overdue conversation about modernizing the rules of the road for how Americans access and pay for video content. The legislation is forward-thinking, free-market oriented and pro-consumer.” – American Television Alliance
“The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), representing millions of taxpayers and consumers across the country, writes in support of your “Next Generation Television Marketplace Act.” The legislation would deliver much-needed reforms to the video marketplace, relaxing onerous rules on cable and satellite carriage of commercial broadcast television stations.” – David Williams, President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance
“Video content is no longer viewed solely through broadcast antenna signals or cable television, yet antiquated laws continue to regulate how one sector of the television industry operates… The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act modernizes federal laws to accommodate and invigorate today’s video marketplace.” – Thomas A. Schatz, President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
“The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act simply removes these barriers to market negotiations by repealing carriage mandates, retransmission consent and compulsory license provisions, and restrictive ownership caps… It places television service negotiations into a free market context.” – Americans for Tax Reform
“Like many areas of our economy, the video marketplace is weighed down by burdensome and outdated regulations. The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act aims to improve that by revising carriage and licensing rules, as well as media ownership restrictions that distort outcomes and harm consumers. The result would be a freer market that better serves the needs of both viewers and market negotiators, helping to bring the world of video programming into the 21st century.” – Andrew Moylan, Director, Interstate Commerce Initiative at the National Taxpayers Union
“Current laws, enacted all the way back in 1992, allow the federal government to pick winners and losers by tipping the scales in negotiations that the government has no business distorting… We at CFIF therefore applaud Rep. Scalise’s leadership, and urge Congress to pass the Next Generation Television Marketplace Act at long last.” – Timothy Lee, Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs, Center for Individual Freedom