Cutting the Cord on Outdated TV Regulations

Jul 23, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C.—House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) today reintroduced the “Next Generation Television Marketplace Act,” a comprehensive bill that replaces the restrictive rules governing cable and satellite carriage of commercial broadcast television stations with a consumer driven, free-market system that determines carriage of cable networks and streaming services.

“It’s time for Congress to 'Cut the Cord' on decades-old regulations, and finally update our 90’s-era laws that are now obsolete in an age where content is available on demand and on the go. The competition among pay-TV providers, streaming services, networks, and local channels has never been more intense, resulting in more choices for American families who are increasingly demanding more personalized viewing options at prices they can afford,” said Whip Scalise.

“Innovation tends to follow the path of least government resistance. For proof, look no further than the growth of online streaming services that are operating in a completely free market, while competing against other platforms that are regulated as if they were still monopolies from the 1990’s. My legislation will level the playing field so consumers can benefit from even more freedom in the video marketplace.”

Specifically, the bill would:

  • Repeal provisions from the Communications Act that mandate the carriage and purchase of broadcast signals by cable operators, satellite providers, and their customers.
  • Repeal the Communications Act “retransmission consent” provisions and the Copyright Act’s “compulsory license” provisions. In doing so, broadcast affiliates would be allowed to sell the programming they license without hindrance and over regulation from the government.
  • Promote greater competition by eliminating the government’s role in defining the scope of programming exclusivity.
  • Codify the repeal of certain limitations imposed on local broadcasters that prevent them from adapting to today’s dynamic communications marketplace.

Key Stakeholders Supporting this Legislation:

“Video content is no longer viewed solely through broadcast antenna signals or cable television, yet antiquated laws continue to regulate how one sector of the television industry operates... The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act modernizes federal laws to accommodate and invigorate today’s video marketplace.”Thomas A. Schatz, President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

“The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act simply removes these barriers to market negotiations by repealing carriage mandates, retransmission consent and compulsory license provisions, and restrictive ownership caps… It places television service negotiations into a free market context.” Americans for Tax Reform.

“Like many areas of our economy, the video marketplace is weighed down by burdensome and outdated regulations. The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act aims to improve that by revising carriage and licensing rules, as well as media ownership restrictions that distort outcomes and harm consumers. The result would be a freer market that better serves the needs of both viewers and market negotiators, helping to bring the world of video programming into the 21st century."Andrew Moylan, Director of the Interstate Commerce Initiative at the National Taxpayers Union

"The Taxpayers Protection Alliance applauds Rep. Steve Scalise’s continuing efforts to reform the video marketplace through commonsense solutions including retransmission consent reform.  The current rules that govern retransmission consent date back to 1992, a different time when there was little competition in the cable marketplace. Fast-forward to today and the market has changed in such a way that the law is far behind the technology to the point that it is harming consumers.”David Williams, President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance

“Current laws, enacted all the way back in 1992, allow the federal government to pick winners and losers by tipping the scales in negotiations that the government has no business distorting… We at CFIF therefore applaud Rep. Scalise's leadership, and urge Congress to pass the Next Generation Television Marketplace Act at long last.” – Timothy Lee, Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs, Center for Individual Freedom