As promised, here's an update on the hearing earlier today (Feb. 24).
Gigi’s testimony before the House Communications Subcommittee calling for reform in how satellite and cable providers carry programming got a good bit of support from legislators. Gigi called for changes to put satellite and cable companies on a more equal footing when it comes to the complex regulations and giving consumers more choice. The law governing how satellite companies gain access to programming and broadcast it expires at the end of the year. This was the first hearing on the issue. The House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on Feb. 25, at which Chris Murray from Consumers Union will testify.
Both Democrats and Republicans on the subcommittee recognized that today’s regulations keep some TV watchers from seeing stations they want to see, and that changes are needed to the rules. Broadcasters want to maintain today’s restrictive rules, which give them more power in negotiating with satellite and cable providers.
Gigi proposed what she called a “grand bargain” that wrapped up all the carriage issues. She wanted a change in the restrictive rules so that any consumer could see any channel offered by a satellite service, whether local or from far away, coupled with a new requirement that satellite carriers must carry all local channels and reform to the process known as “retransmission consent,” which governs the terms broadcasters negotiate with cable and satellite companies to carry the local channels and elimination of the different licensing schemes for cable and satellite in favor of one mechanism for all.
Several of the legislators from both parties, from Chairman Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Bart Stupak (D-MI) to Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) complained that their home markets weren’t being served by satellite companies, so Gigi’s suggestion could help them. Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) said he agreed with Gigi’s assessment that reform was needed for retransmission consent. He called arguments from the broadcasters that the process wasn’t broken “the statement of a monopolist.”
Gigi also got a chance to talk about the Fairness Doctrine (It’s time has passed but broadcaster public trustee rules should be reviews), performance royalties (broadcasters should have to pay like satellite and webcasters to broadcast music) and sports programming (fans should be able to see their local teams).
The written statements of all the witnesses are here.. The video link should also be on the page at some point.