Scalise Reintroduces Video Reform Bill

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) Dec. 12 reintroduced his Next Generation Television Marketplace Act.

That is the video reform bill that would essentially take a chainsaw to legacy regs, repealing compulsory copyright licenses and lifting media ownership rules.

That came on the same day that Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) introduced a video reform bill, the Video CHOICE Act, to end retrans blackouts.

Scalise said earlier this week that an announced multi-year look at communications law reform did not obviate the need for action in the shorter term on revising the 1992 Cable Act.

Specifically, the Scalise bill would:

"Repeal those provisions of the Communications Act that mandate the carriage and purchase of certain broadcast signals by cable operators, satellite providers, and their customers."

"Repeal the Communications Act’s 'retransmission consent' provisions and the Copyright Act’s 'compulsory license' provisions, thereby allowing negotiations for the carriage of broadcast stations to take place in the same deregulated environment as negotiations for carriage of non-broadcast channels such as Discovery, Food Network, and AMC.

"Repeal ownership limitations imposed on local media operators, allowing businesses to evolve and adapt to today’s dynamic communications market."

NAB President Gordon Smith didn't like the looks of either bill.

"Clearly, these two pieces of legislation are utterly inconsistent with each other, and we find it sad that pay TV companies who built their broadband, voice and video businesses on the backs of local TV signals now balk at the notion of paying a fair market rate for the most-watched programming on television," said Smith in a statement. "NAB and America's local broadcasters respectfully oppose both of these bills. We will constructively engage with policymakers seeking to improve upon a retransmission consent law that is now working over 99 percent of the time."

"The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act, introduced by Congressmen Scalise and Gardner, would eliminate outdated rules that have become a barrier to competition in today’s modern video marketplace," said Steve Davis, VP, CenturyLink. "The Video CHOICE Act...would empower the FCC to protect television consumers from unfair blackouts, examine broadcasters’ blocking of online video content and address industry tying arrangements that limit consumer choice." 

"The American Television Alliance (ATVA) commends the leadership of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) for introducing legislative solutions to the problems created by our outdated retransmission consent system," that group said. "Today, both Representatives introduced bills that would reform the current video market and protect consumers.  While the bills reflect different approaches to reform, they show the ever-growing bipartisan support for immediate action to fix retransmission consent."

The American Television Alliance members include the American Cable Association, Time Warner Cable, Dish and DirecTV, which has been pushing for retrans reforms.

"Charter thanks Ranking Member Eshoo and Representative Scalise for their actions today to fix the broken retransmission consent system," the cable operators said in a statement. "We look forward to working with them on reforming the outdated rules and ensuring consumers are protected."

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.