Gigi is testifying this morning (Tues.) before the House Communications Subcommittee, and will recommend a series of changes to copyright law that would promote competition and do away with an antiquated series of rules that no longer make sense with today’s technology.
We'll have more after the hearing, but the point of the testimony is to suggest replacing the current structure with one that would have cable and satellite follow the same rules for obtaining licenses to use copyrighted works, for broadcasting signals into local markets and for paying copyright royalty rates. In addition, Gigi said, services that carry video over the Internet could also be included in the unified regulatory structure.
The current regulatory structure for retransmission consent, which is meant to promote localism in broadcasting, instead produces “anticompetitive results,” Gigi said: “The current retransmission consent scheme, the must-carry/carry-one-carry-all rules, and distant signal restrictions combine to create an imbalance that allows broadcasters to engage in discriminatory pricing. This in turn raises prices for customers and hurts the ability of smaller MVPDs [multichannel video programming distributor]to compete in the marketplace. To remedy this, Congress must at the least provide for more transparency in pricing and effective remedies for anticompetitive behavior, and ideally create a regulatory structure to prevent such behavior in the first place.”
Congress should make retransmission consent deals transparent, Gigi said, possibly combined with a statutory retransmission consent license with standardized rates: “A compulsory license with standardized rates would ensure price parity among MVPDs, as well as effectively eliminating the troubling tying arrangements and preventing broadcasters from withholding important local content as leverage against smaller video providers.”
Finally, Gigi said Congress should reform the “distant signal” protections for broadcasters which often prevent consumers from viewing nearby TV channels. Over the long term, Congress should allow programming providers to offer content their consumers want. In the near term, Congress should relax the rules to allow in-state signals to be supplied to consumers who now must be given out-of-state channels as a result of the rules.
Gigi's written statement is here.
Her oral statement is here.