DeMint exits Senate for think tank post


Jim DeMintJim DeMint (R-SC), who was expected to ascend to the top Republican spot on the influential Senate Commerce Committee, is headed instead for the Heritage Foundation. He leaves a hole at the top that will be coveted – but the identity of his successor is unclear.

DeMint stated, “I’m leaving the Senate now, but I’m not leaving the fight. I’ve decided to join The Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas. No organization is better equipped to lead this fight and I believe my experience in public office as well as in the private sector as a business owner will help Heritage become even more effective in the years to come.”

DeMint is currently chair of Commerce’s Communications Subcommittee.

The Ranking Member position for the minority Republicans will be opening up upon the retirement of Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). Olympia Snowe (R-ME) was believed to have a shot at succeeding Hutchison, but she also decided not to run for re-election this cycle. DeMint was next in line after Snowe, but now his retirement opens it up yet again.

Next in line is John Thune (R-SD), but his role in the party’s Senate leadership group may preclude his selection as a committee chair. Roger Wicker (R-MS) is next in line after Thune.

According to The Hill, the Senate has not yet figured out how to populate the committees.

DeMint is one of the congressional Republicans who have been keen on depriving public broadcasting of federal funding, and introduced a bill to do that. However, he has gotten the most headlines in broadcast circles for introducing S.2008 Next Generation Television Marketplace Act of 2011, which takes a very deregulatory approach to the broadcasting business.

Here is the bill’s summary.

S.2008 Next Generation Television Marketplace Act of 2011

Repeals provisions of the Communications Act of 1934 concerning: (1) the carriage of distant television stations and significantly viewed signals by satellite carriers, (2) the retransmittal of television signals to eligible state counties in the designated market area of another state by cable operators or satellite carriers, (3) the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) qualified carrier certification process, (4) the designation of cable channels for commercial video programming use, (5) the carriage of local commercial television signals and qualified low power stations by cable operators, (6) the FCC’s authority to adopt syndicated exclusivity rules for private home viewing of secondary transmissions by satellite of broadcast station signals, and (7) the requirement that cable systems or other multichannel video programming distributors obtain consent to retransmit a broadcasting station signal.

Repeals and revises provisions concerning: (1) the carriage of local television signals by satellite carriers, and (2) the regulation of rates and broadcast signal carriage.

Makes several existing requirements concerning the carriage of local television broadcast stations applicable only to qualified noncommercial educational television stations.

Repeals federal copyright laws requiring statutory licenses for certain secondary transmissions of distant and local television programming by satellite carriers.

Extends exemptions from copyright infringement laws to certain secondary transmissions by cable systems and satellite carriers. Repeals provisions concerning cable system: (1) nonsimultaneous transmission infringement, and (2) statutory licenses for secondary transmissions.

Directs the FCC to repeal related FCC rules and eliminate: (1) restrictions on the number of broadcast television stations that a person or entity may own, operate, or control in the same designated market area under the local television multiple ownership rule; (2) the radio-television cross-ownership rule; and (3) limitations on the direct or indirect ownership, operation, or control of a broadcast television station by a person or entity that owns, operates, or controls a daily newspaper under the daily newspaper cross-ownership rule.

Requires that this Act take effect on July 1, 2014, subject to the exception that contracts, understandings, and arrangements related to retransmission consent and the distribution of video programming entered into prior to its enactment be provided for under special transitional provisions.

RBR-TVBR observation: There was no widespread approval of DeMint’s broadcast bill that we’re aware of – it was open-minded about its deregulatory goals, so while a given stakeholder might like part of it, the same stakeholder was bound to dislike others. Certainly, there was no groundswell within the industry to the effect that stakeholders were urging one another to get behind it and push for enactment.

Regardless, with Democrats in control, DeMint’s was headed nowhere. Now, without DeMint to keep it simmering on a back burner somewhere, it’s questionable whether we’ll even hear about it again.