Free State: STELA Can Clean Out Old Cable Regs

While some have called for a "clean" STELA bill, the Free State Foundation is arguing that it is the perfect venue for some housecleaning of cable regulation.

In a blog posting the same day the House Communications Subcommittee released a draft of legislation reauthorizing the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act, research fellow Seth Cooper says that Congress should take its deregulatory shots when it can get them.

Some form of STELA has to pass or the law will sunset and along with it satellite and cable operators' ability to import some distant affiliated TV station signals.

That makes it must-pass, if it is to be renewed as most think it will, so it is a vehicle that will move much faster than more general communications reg reform teed up for a multi-year look in the House.

"Congress shouldn't be rigidly wedded to any artificial principle in order to obstruct genuine regulatory reform. Rather, it's a sound principle that burdensome government regulations premised on market failure should be reduced or eliminated where competitive market conditions actually emerge," writes Cooper. "Leaving expediency judgments aside, STELA reauthorization presents a fitting instrument for clearing away government restrictions on cable services that market changes have rendered unjustifiable."

STELA and other deregulatory touchstones are expected to be topics of conversation at the Free State Foundation's sixth Annual Telecom Policy Conference Thursday, March 18, at the National Press Club in Washington.

The conference lineup includes FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael O'Rielly and FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen.

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.