Broadcasters Try to Distract from Overwhelming Conservative Support for Retrans Reform

The broadcasters continue to distort the truth and claim that the current retransmission consent regime somehow amounts to the “free market” regime. And they’ve lately enlisted a couple of conservative voices to similarly falsely claim that a system that gives broadcasters enormous government subsidies and favorable regulations is “free market.”

However, there is an overwhelming chorus of conservative voices who have been calling for retransmission consent for year. Conservative groups are calling for an end to government regulations that tilt the playing field and enable broadcasters to black out viewers whenever their demands aren’t met.

Here’s just a sampling of what conservatives are saying about our outdated TV regulations and the need for retransmission consent reform:

Free Sate Foundation“Refocusing efforts to improve consumer choice by eliminating legacy regulatory distortions in the video marketplace would be an important step in diminishing the likelihood of TV blackouts.”

Adam Thierer, Mercatus Center at George Mason University: “…the current retrans racket gives the broadcasters an increasingly lucrative revenue stream when they deliver content on cable and satellite systems (in addition to the advertising revenues they already receive).”

Citizens Against Government Waste“In retransmission consent negotiations, consumers lose both viewing time and pay increased costs. It is time to repeal antiquated regulatory schemes, including retransmission consent, and provide a new regulatory structure that reflects the current competitive marketplace.”

L. Gordon Crovitz, Wall Street Journal: “The absurdity of the current laws is clear: A regulatory system designed to keep local broadcasts available to viewers is causing disputes between cable companies and broadcasters, leading to the very blackouts the regulations were supposed to prevent. It’s past time to deregulate video distribution.”

National Taxpayers Union: “Because the federal government has created a complex system of laws and regulations dictating the rules of the game, the playing field is strewn with obstacles that increase the likelihood that providers of content and service will end up in a stalemate…Consumers would benefit from a more thoughtful policy approach that respects the private sector’s capacity to build prosperous markets for video content and service and minimizes the role of the federal government.”- NTU

“NTU and its members eagerly await lawmakers’ responses to one of the most urgent tasks facing the future of our nation’s economic prosperity: limiting the burden and interference of government so as to allow the continued development of a robust, competitive telecommunications marketplace. The 21st century arrived more than 10 years ago; it’s time for federal policy to recognize that fact.”- NTU

Taxpayers Protection Alliance“The Taxpayers Protection Alliance has been writing about retransmission consent and the need to update the Cable Act of 1992, and how there is an inherit advantage for broadcasters: leverage in negotiations with monopoly cable providers, granting broadcasters the right to choose between guaranteed carriage or insisting that multichannel video programming distributors (cable and satellite providers) obtain and pay for a station’s consent to retransmit the station to local subscribers.”

American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research: “The outdated 1992 must-carry and retransmission consent rules need repeal. The data suggests the presence of market power that is harming consumers, and policymakers need to fix it now.”

Many of these groups have also endorsed legislative solutions, such as Rep. Steve Scalise’s Next Generation Television Marketplace Act.

Andrew Moylan, R Street Institute“The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act ‘would place negotiators on a level playing field, afford property owners the full right to negotiate for how their property will be used, and all without further empowering the FCC or other arms of the federal government…Hard to argue with that from a free market perspective.’ “

Heritage“In the current conflict between broadcasters and distributors over fees, policymakers should resist the temptation to place their thumbs on the scales in favor of one side. Instead, they should focus on eliminating regulatory impediments in the television marketplace. The legislation offered by Senator DeMint and Representative Scalise offers a good start to that process.”

At the end of the day, reforming retransmission consent amounts to removing outdated and one-sided government regulations. What true conservative wouldn’t be in favor of that?


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