Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), a proponent of free market television and video marketplace reform, says in a new interview that "obsolete regulations have held back innovation and growth" in this fast-changing area of the economy.
As congressional attention has increasingly focused on the topic of online video, in an interview with RedState's Neil Stevens, Scalise discusses the impact of what he calls "archaic laws" that form the basis of the regime governing transmission of broadcasters' signals by cable and satellite operators, among others:
Retransmission consent rules were enacted in 1992, and you only have to compare a cell phone or computer from that era with today’s smart phones and tablets to realize how far technology has advanced, yet the laws haven’t changed to keep pace with the technology. For years, we’ve been limited by archaic laws that still don’t account for the current scope of the Internet or modern, on-the-go, at-your fingertips devices like the iPhone. Unfortunately, these and other obsolete regulations have held back innovation and growth while forcing pay-TV providers to carry programs and stations irrespective of consumer interest, for example. The ’92 Cable Act and ’76 and ’88 compulsory copyright licenses suppress economic liberty and restrict free market innovation in TV programming, yet they still represent the most current laws governing video.
Over recent months, a number of free market groups have voiced support for legislation introduced by Scalise designed to bring the regime in line with modern technological and market realities, following ongoing public concern about blackouts of major sporting and entertainment events.
In a February letter, representatives of the National Taxpayers Union, Americans for Tax Reform, Citizens Against Government Waste, and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, among others, described a threatened Superbowl blackout as "just the latest manifestation of the problems created by poorly-designed government rules that have hampered free market negotiations."
The signatories of that letter urge passage of Scalise's legislation as a measure that, by instituting a genuine free market with regard to negotiations over the ability of cable and satellite firms to carry a given broadcaster's signal, will "encourage accountability from all sides," and benefit consumers.
But in the RedState interview, Scalise argues a further benefit could be the strengthening of property rights, and specifically that of copyright (an issue that recent technology policy debates have seen emerge as a major concern among members of the entertainment community, including in the context of opposing net neutrality regulations which some believe could hamper efforts to combat internet piracy).
By returning to a free market, which we don’t have in today’s video marketplace, the only way someone will be able to exhibit a copyrighted video signal is through a mutual agreement between the party that owns the content and the party wanting to show it.
You can read the full Scalise interview here.