As the Senate Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee hearing on the reauthorization of STELA hearings ramped up on 4/1, TVfreedom spokesman, Robert Kenny issued a statement bashing the cable industry’s renewed push to force broadcast TV programming off of the “lifeline basic tier”: “It is unconscionable on the part of pay-TV to characterize the ‘lifeline basic tier’ programming option for consumers as somehow being ‘unfair’ and ‘duplicative’ in nature when it ultimately was established in the public interest. To this day, the ‘lifeline basic tier’ guarantees that the most vulnerable pay-TV consumers across America have access to broadcast TV.
“In reality, this pay-TV ploy represents yet another consumer rip-off and searing tactical play by the pay-TV industry to further lock in its regulatory advantage over broadcasters in the marketplace.
“Forcing the most popular stations off the ‘lifeline basic tier’ would harm consumers by ultimately making it more expensive for them to access local news, emergency information, and severe weather warnings that are only provided by broadcasters.
“We therefore ask lawmakers to set aside this greed-driven demand on the part of pay-TV as they move forward with deliberations to reauthorize STELA.”
RBR-TVBR observation: The FCC has already eviscerated local broadcast TV with yesterday’s vote eliminating JSAs and joint retransmission consent deals. Seeing that it appears to be the “government hunting season” on TV broadcasters, we wouldn’t be surprised if the hearings don’t give MVPDs even more of what they want. The joke is Congress might actually believe that all of this would lead to lower cable bills.