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Cable Technology Feature Article

January 05, 2012

1992 Cable Act Obsolete and Needs Modernization

By Monica Gleberman, Contributing Writer

The DeMint-Scalise bill, “The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act,” introduced by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), if passed, would repeal antiquated restrictions of the 1992 Cable Act that have become obsolete due to drastic changes in the television market, as well as increased competition and technological advances.

The Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act, approved in 1992, required cable systems to carry most local broadcast channels and prohibited cable operators from charging local broadcasters to carry their signal. At the time Congress stated they wanted to promote the availability of diverse views and information, to rely on the marketplace to the maximum extent.

The 1992 Cable Act incorrectly assumed that cable was a natural monopoly requiring permanent, extensive, and intrusive regulation of cable rates and content prices, terms and conditions. When the act was first written and passed, many didn’t foresee the changes in technology and options consumers would have. Cable now has DirectTV and Dish, Verizon (News - Alert)-FIOS & UVerse, and Netflix and YouTube to contend with.

Forbes said the act has become just way to obsolete. “To date cable has lost 40 percent of the video market share to competitors. Netflix has become the nation’s leading video provider measured by subscribers, and cable’s main online video offerings are ranked number eight (NBC Universal (News - Alert)) and #10 (Hulu) in the United States.” The Next Generation Television Marketplace Act would repeal the compulsory license, must-carry, retransmission consent and local broadcast ownership limits.

Cable is no longer the video monopoly that it once was, making the baseline for the Cable Act seem obsolete. “Today’s high-tech video marketplace is governed by a set of laws and regulations that are 20 years old. Comporium commends DeMint for recognizing that these outdated regulations are, in fact, stymieing innovation and harming consumers.

Comporium looks forward to working with DeMint to modernize these regulations, inject true competition into the video marketplace, and protect consumers from rules that result in higher rates to cable TV customers,” said Senior Vice President of External Affairs, Matthew L. Dosch, back in December.

Scalise and DeMint introduced the legislation in their respective chambers back in December of 2011 and are hoping to get it passed, changing the regulations on broadcasting and cable regulations from decades ago.

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Edited by Jennifer Russell