Point Taken

Andrew Moylan, VP of government affairs for the National Taxpayers Union, points out that plenty of conservatives disagree with the American Conservative Union on what the government should or should not do about retransmission consent.

Here is his take.


I read with interest your story about the American Conservative Union’s odd defense of the federal government’s broken television service policies. I could go on at great length as to why I think they have the issue wrong but I’ll confine myself to two thoughts, if you’ll indulge me.

First, it appears to me that ACU is on an island when it comes to the conservative community and the Next Generation Television Marketplace Act. It is carried by Jim DeMint, perhaps the most reliably conservative Member of Congress (100% on ACU’s own Congressional Scorecard), and just last month we helped to organize the attached coalition letter supporting the bill that was signed by conservative groups like the National Taxpayers Union, Americans for Tax Reform and its Digital Liberty project, Citizens Against Government Waste, the Center for Individual Freedom, and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance. In addition, analysts like Adam Thierer of the Mercatus Center and the folks at the Institute for Policy Innovation have written in support of the concept. This wide consensus exists because the bill takes a conservative approach to the problem: it simply removes government interference from the process entirely by eliminating retrans, compulsory copyright licensing, carriage mandates, and ownership caps.

Second, ACU’s notion that the bill would “inject government into the retrans marketplace” is exactly wrong. What the bill would do is remove government from the retrans (and copyright!) marketplace entirely, leaving content and service providers to battle it out in a truly free market. That’s why their claim that broadcasters could be forced to hand over their signals without compensation in the absence of retransmission consent rules is so peculiar. That’s simply not true and we wouldn’t support a bill that would force broadcasters to do so. Repealing retrans, compulsory licensing, and the other rules would just hit the “reset” button on negotiations and both sides would get to determine the proper amount of compensation free of government influence.

I hope this clarifies what I believe to be the strong conservative support of the DeMint-Scalise bill. Let me know if you have any questions.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.