DeMint Exiting Senate to Head Heritage

Had been big backer of curbing FCC authority, scrapping retrans regime
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Sen. James DeMint (R-S.C.), who was in the conversation for
chair of the Senate Commerce Committee if the Republicans had taken back
control of that body, will resign next month to head conservative think tank
the Heritage Foundation, his office announced Thursday. His term was not up
until 2016.

"I'm leaving the Senate now, but I'm not leaving the
fight," he said in a statement. "I've decided to join The Heritage
Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in
the battle of ideas. No organization is better equipped to lead this fight and
I believe my experience in public office as well as in the private sector as a
business owner will help Heritage become even more effective in the years to
come.

Broadcasters won't be shedding many tears, though cable
operators are losing a champion on the issues of network neutrality and control
over their own networks.

DeMint, ranking member of the Senate Communications
Subcommittee, has been a big backer of sweeping
telecom deregulation,
including scrapping the retrans regime.

A bill he co-sponsored in 2011 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.

While broadcasters would like to see local caps go away,
they were not ready to trade retrans for the privilege.

DeMint has long wanted to curb FCC authority over
competition policy, and tried to create
hurdles to the FCC's network neutrality regs.

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