Technical note: This was written Friday night, but due to technical difficulties at RedState, was only posted Saturday afternoon
I know many RedState readers are big fans of Jim DeMint, so in my coverage of the Retransmission Consent debate, I've focused on him. However he's not the whole story. This Congress, due to the TEA party-driven Republican majority, it's been the House where our major regulatory reform successes have happened. And it's Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana and Bobby Jindal's successor in the House, who is the champion of the Next Generation TV Marketplace Act there.
However I know that there have been skeptics on this reform, so I was fortunately able to snag some of the Congressman's time, and ask him a few questions about the proposed reforms. Catch his answers below the fold.
Tech at Night: Retransmission Consent is one of those terms of art that few are familiar with. Why should we be concerned about these long-standing rules? How could they possibly be harming us if they've been in place for so many years?
Congressman Scalise: Retransmission consent rules were enacted in 1992, and you only have to compare a cell phone or computer from that era with today’s smart phones and tablets to realize how far technology has advanced, yet the laws haven’t changed to keep pace with the technology. For years, we’ve been limited by archaic laws that still don’t account for the current scope of the Internet or modern, on-the-go, at-your fingertips devices like the iPhone. Unfortunately, these and other obsolete regulations have held back innovation and growth while forcing pay-TV providers to carry programs and stations irrespective of consumer interest, for example. The ’92 Cable Act and ’76 and ’88 compulsory copyright licenses suppress economic liberty and restrict free market innovation in TV programming, yet they still represent the most current laws governing video.
Tech at Night: Weren't the rules passed to stop free riders? If we change the rules, won't people just retransmit their streams for free?
Congressman Scalise: The Next Generation TV Marketplace Act re-establishes personal property rights and also starts a dialogue to allow the modern telecommunications marketplace to return to true free market principles. By returning to a free market, which we don’t have in today’s video marketplace, the only way someone will be able to exhibit a copyrighted video signal is through a mutual agreement between the party that owns the content and the party wanting to show it. Under my bill I have no doubt that commercial programming, demanded by consumers, will be carried by pay-TV providers at a fair market price. This bill repeals both the compulsory copyright licenses and retransmission consent together, which will encourage free market principles by giving broadcasters a new ability to seek compensation for the carriage of their content under traditional copyright law. Doing so maintains a dual revenue stream that broadcasters currently enjoy, but does so through a free market mechanism, rather than the current set of outdated laws and FCC rules that include rate regulation. Claims that changing the rules will necessarily result in pay-TV providers exhibiting valuable broadcast programming for free are simply false and have been disproven by many respected outside organizations.
Tech at Night: Do the proposed changes tilt the playing field toward big companies like Comcast? Would we be better served simply by deregulating and letting the market decide?
Congressman Scalise: The government needs to get out of the business of picking winners and losers within the telecom industry, and my bill presents an opportunity to shift to a free market where consumers’ voices and decisions, not federal bureaucrats, determine success. Letting the market decide is a hands-down better solution for consumers and job creators than deferring to the federal government as under current law. The regulatory environment under current law encourages businesses to turn to unelected federal bureaucrats at the FCC to tip the scales in their favor, and that heavy handed approach needs to end. We need to change this 20 year old way of doing things and free up this overregulated and outdated marketplace. I’m proud to lead the charge to modernize this segment of the telecom industry so we can promote more innovation and competition in a free marketplace.
It's as I've said all along. This is about fixing laws that try to pick winners and losers. This is about an old situation where one side of a negotiation was favored. The industry losing its favored status will complain about this, but it's time for fairness.
In other news: Pirate Bay founder was fine with hosting a service to aid the dissemination of other people's information, but keeps his own health issues secret. Do as I say, not as I do!
Funny how it works: Government spending gets a multiplier. Private doesn't. ISPs aren't protected by rights against Net Neutrality, but Google is against Search Neutrality. Do as I say, not as I do!
Then again the FCC itself is where economic logic does not penetrate.
I'm calling it now: Sprint will go from progressive cause to villain next week when the firm's shareholders vote down the same Net Neutrality Verizon's and AT&T's did.
What happens when judges make law, on their own, without the foggiest understanding of how tech issues work? Self-contradcitory rulings like this, which simultaneously say that downloading an image to view it is legal and illegal. How do you prove a download was active or passive? You can't. Data is data. Downloads are downloads. Files on disk are files, whether they're "saved" or "cached."
Credit where it's due: After I shamed them enough, some of the anti-CISPA crusaders have awakened to the dangers of Lieberman-Collins. I'm glad. Good on groups like EFF for taking a stand where it's needed.
Should government step in to preserve failing business models? That seems to be the argument broadcasters make against Aereo and something to watch as Wireless revenue streams change thanks to Facebook.
More Republican support for the Marketplace Fairness Act interstate compact for the states to cooperate to collect sales taxes across state lines: Rick Snyder of Michigan. Again, all I say is give it some firm precautions against a national sales tax, and we're good to go.