Add Bounce TV cofounder Martin Luther King III to the list
of broadcasters not eager for the Congress to take out the deregulatory broom
otherwise known as the Next Generation Television Marketplace Act (S. 2008).
That bill, offered up by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), would
sweep away the retrans/must-carry regime as well as the compulsory copyright
license and cable and broadcast ownership regs.
In a letter to Sen. Commerce Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller
(D-W. Va.) dated Aug. 3, King said it was "critical" that
Rockefeller's committee reject the bill. Currently the Senate is on August
recess, and nothing is likely to happen on that front until the next Congress anyway.
But the issue or major FCC reg reform continues to be on many minds in
Washington, including Rockefeller's at a recent
hearing on the 1992 Cable Act at which the DeMint bill was a topic of
Without retrans revenues, says King, some broadcasters will
not be able to fund diverse programming. "While the sponsors of S. 2008
naively promise a more robust U.S. television marketplace when these rules are
repealed, the revers will happen," says King. "Broadcasters will lose
the financial flexibility to fund diverse programming, both on a broadcasters'
prime channel and on the digital subchannels that are allowing Bounce TV to
entertain and inform previously neglected African-American viewers.
The National Association of Broadcasters has already been
showcasing Bounce and other diverse multicast services as it advocates for
preserving the reach and quality of existing broadcast services that do not choose
to give up spectrum to wireless broadband.