Washington

Conservative Group Asks Congress Not to Scrap Retrans in Reg Reform Bills

ACU says stripping away compensation would tip the scales to pay TV companies 3/28/2012 05:41:24 PM Eastern

The American Conservative Union has asked Congress to oppose
portions of House and Senate deregulatory bills that would scrap retransmission
consent.

ACU, whose board includes Grover Norquist and former Hewlett-Packer
CEO Carly Fiorina, said that the retrans marketplace is functioning and that
"stripping away" compensation for use of the broadcast signal the
government would "be tipping the scales heavily to the side of the pay-TV
companies."

"Despite what you might hear, under the present system
there is no epidemic of service interruptions that adversely affect consumers
and cause them to miss widely-viewed events like the Super Bowl," said the
group. "In fact this is a marketplace in which over 99 percent of
negotiations are settled with no service interruptions."

Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) last December introduced the
Next Generation Television Marketplace Act in Senate. The sweeping and unlikely-to-pass
legislation would throw out the retrans regime and local ownership rules. Rep.
Steve Scalise (R-La.) introduced a House version of the bill.

That deregulatory chainsaw was aimed at clearing out
"decades-old" regs they argue represent the government
inappropriately picking winners and losers.

ACU is no big fan of regulation, and points out that it
supports some of the bills deregulatory measures. But they suggested that the
retrans marketplace was working and that the government didn't need to inject
itself into that marketplace.

"Senator Jim DeMint is to be commended for trying to
reduce unnecessary regulations and there are provisions in the bill we would
consider supporting," they wrote. "However, one of the major outcomes
of the bill would be to strip away the negotiation process known as ‘retransmission
consent.'  This process created a marketplace to ensure that broadcasters
were compensated by pay-tv providers for the use of their signal and
content."

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