Consumers Ready for State of Video to Change
Consumers Ready for State of Video to Change
Consumers Ready for State of Video to Change

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    Senators are
    challenged to think outside the industry talking points, to what consumers are
    saying loudly in their marketplace choices.

    As a part of a series of hearings, the Senate Commerce
    Committee held a hearing on the “State of Video” communications Tuesday May 14,

    Leaders from the cable, satellite, and broadcast TV
    industries joined PK’s own video & media policy guru, John Bergmayer on the
    panel and made one thing very clear: These industries are making a fine profit
    right now and are not interested in having the power of the Internet change

    Hearings such as this, that have (somewhat) balanced witness
    panels are very helpful because they remind us that no matter how much we are
    told through advertising that what cable, satellite, and broadcast are giving
    us is what we want, these companies are in the business of protecting their
    business. The technology that can
    increase competition and lower the price of cable is already available in
    online video. Millions of viewers
    are making
    this choice
    to take advantage of online video options today.

    However none of the witnesses (save Bergmayer) pointed to
    ways to ensure that this new outlet for local, diverse content is able to grow
    and compete with the traditional video providers of cable, satellite, and
    broadcast. It was simply not in
    their interest to say so.

    Thankfully, Senator Pryor included Bergmayer as the voice of
    the consumer and the Senate heard several examples of online options that are
    currently disrupting the local broadcast and cable dominance with their
    innovative ways to watch video. Aereo, Sky Angel, and others have brought
    content to viewers in innovative ways but have been greeted with legal threats
    from those who fear that millions of eyes will choose to watch somewhere else.

    You can read Bergmayer’s full
    testimony here
    and watch the full hearing on the Senate
    Commerce Committee website

    Given the average age of Senators you might assume that
    their idea of watching TV might be stuck in the 1990’s with the broadcast and
    cable industry. And yet several
    Senators demonstrated that they realize there are other options. 

    Senator McCain led by suggesting legislation that allows
    consumers greater choice in their cable viewing options.  Senator Warner inquired about Aereo’s
    service and suggested that broadcasters who overreact to viewers choosing an
    antenna service rather than buying a home antenna by ceasing to broadcast, need
    to turn their free government spectrum back in. And Senator Johnson inquired
    into what the roadblocks to competition from online video are.

    Instead of hearing how online video can be promoted and
    grown, Senators listened to how broadcasters provide crucial local content, or
    cable is offering TV everywhere options to its customers.

    What consumers are looking for is choices and lower prices,
    and if online video was given the same abilities to access content that other
    video distributors are given in the Communications Act, they might have those

    I was encouraged to see several Senators willing to think
    outside the box and ask how they can support these new TV viewing choices. As with past disruptions to the video
    marketplace, it may require Congress to act before we see the full potential of
    this new source of content.