Massive deregulation bill introduced in House and Senate


Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Steve Scalise (R-LA) have introduced legislation which would pretty much eliminate the entire regulatory structure for broadcasting. The bill is being called the Next Generation Television Marketplace Act. It is HR 3675 in the House and S 2008 in the Senate.

“Over the last several decades, communications and entertainment technology has become more advanced, while the laws governing the industry have remained relatively unchanged,” Scalise said. “Together, decades-old cable and satellite ‘compulsory copyright’ licenses and ‘retransmission consent’ regulations currently influence many aspects of the broadcast programming consumers watch on TV. The government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers, and the Next Generation Television Marketplace Act ensures that by removing the heavy-hand of government, the market is free to operate in a way that continues to benefit consumers and encourage innovation.”

“The laws and rules governing video services were largely written decades ago, and do not reflect the tremendous technological advancements, dramatic growth of competition, and rapidly changing consumer behavior of the 21st Century,” said Senator DeMint. “If we want to encourage innovation, job creation, and consumer benefits, we need to stop issuing new regulations and instead remove and modernize rules written to address the last century’s business and regulatory models.”

Specifically, the legislation would:

-Repeal those provisions of the Communications Act that mandate the carriage and purchase of certain broadcast signals by cable operators, satellite providers, and their customers.

-Repeal the Communications Act’s “retransmission consent” provisions and the Copyright Act’s “compulsory license” provisions, thereby allowing negotiations for the carriage of broadcast stations to take place in the same deregulated environment as negotiations for carriage of non-broadcast channels such as Discovery, Food Network, and AMC.

-Repeal ownership limitations imposed on local media operators, allowing businesses to evolve and adapt to today’s dynamic communications market.

Satellite TV company DirecTV was quick to applaud the proposal. “This legislation would eliminate byzantine regulations that shackle innovation, competition and consumer choice. DirecTV is eager to work with the congressmen to build support among their colleagues to pass this bill to modernize how Americans get their video content,” the company said.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) wants nothing to do with it. “NAB respectfully opposes the legislation. Current law ensures access to quality local news, entertainment, sports and life-saving weather warnings. The proposed changes to the Communications Act strike at the core of free market negotiations and broadcast localism, thereby threatening a community-based information and entertainment medium that serves tens of millions of Americans each day,” said NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton.

RBR-TVBR observation: Don’t get too excited. This bill is going absolutely nowhere. It is doubtful either chamber will even hold hearings. But it is interesting to see how far some lawmakers on the far right would like to go with deregulation.