The State of the Media Union

President Obama gave his take on the State of the Union last week, which included a shout-out for network neutrality, trade deals and innovation, all on the media world’s agenda as well.

We thought we would ask some other presidents (and one chairman) for their quick take on the State of the Media Union (SOTMU). That would be the presidents of some major media trade associations around the Beltway.

Disruptive incentive auctions, Title II and online pirates notwithstanding, like that other president, they were unanimous in their assessments that their respective industries are strong, if sometimes challenged by the Washington powers that be.

President, National Association of Broadcasters

Broadcasters have embraced changes in viewer attitudes and technologies to strengthen our indispensable role in the lives of the American people.

Broadcast programming better reflects the multiculturalism of America, and we are employing a greater diversity of show creators, cast and crew members, who were previously underrepresented in our industry.

Local and network broadcasters are collaborating on new multimedia platforms to give viewers access to local and primetime programming wherever and whenever they want. Ratings are up for local and network news broadcasts, and we remain the definitive place for emergency information when other communications systems crash under capacity constraints.
Marquee sporting events are now migrating back to broadcast TV, such as the British Open, professional boxing and NBA and MLB games.

The bottom line: Even in an era of unprecedented media fragmentation, broadcasters remain the King Kong of content and have a bright future ahead of us.

Michael Powell
President, National Cable & Telecommunications Association

As technology is transforming consumer experiences and expectations, the cable industry faces challenges, but most of them provide exciting opportunities to remake the industry for the future. That transformation is now underway.

The continuing Internet revolution is defining the future for both operators and programmers.  By driving towards widely available gigabit Internet speeds by 2017 and deploying cutting-edge Wi-Fi connectivity, America’s Internet is being accelerated and untethered.  And consumers are being liberated from their living rooms by programming that is being delivered by apps and made available on every screen for viewing anytime and anywhere.

We are also committed to improved customer service that meets the needs of today’s tech savvy consumers.  By delivering on the promise of this better future, cable will remain relevant and strong.

Matt Polka
President, American Cable Association

ACA members see broadband as their future and are focused on at least two issues. One is stressing to Washington policymakers the need to ensure that the independent cable operators can continue to invest in their networks to satisfy surging consumer demand unfettered by burdensome regulations.

The Federal Communications Commission’s decision last year to impose Title II regulation on Internet Service Providers was a serious setback, particularly for smaller ISPs that sought, but did not receive, legitimate exemptions from the most onerous features of the CC’s new common carrier requirements.

The other is the ‘cable-ization or content-ization’ of broadband – the concern that powerful edge content providers (I won’t mention any names, but you probably know who I mean) will withhold their services from consumers until ISPs have signed contracts requiring the payment of per-broadband subscriber fees at the wholesale level. This would be the broken, inflexible and costly cable business model grafted onto the Internet, happening at a time when the big video bundle is already crumbling. Good heavens, that’s the last thing consumers want or need, and ACA is hopeful that Washington policymakers will defend consumers forced to pay for online services they never use.

Chris Dodd
Chairman, Motion Picture Association of America

On the one hand, it’s been a phenomenal year at the box office, and the cinema experience endures as a popular form of entertainment that can bring people together. At the same time, audiences now have an extraordinary number of ways to access movies and TV shows on digital platforms in their home or on the go. The state of our industry is built on the fact that creativity and consumer choice is flourishing. It’s vital that we protect the core principles of copyright and free expression that have allowed this vibrant sector of our nation’s economy to thrive.

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.