WASHINGTON D.C. — Yesterday, TechFreedom and the Competitive Enterprise Institute urged the FCC to modernize its media regulations to keep up with the rapidly evolving video content industry, especially with regard to its cable ownership limits and set-top box regulations.

The filing states:

OVD [online video distributor] services have thrived in an unregulated environment, relying on licensing copyrights directly with content owners on a voluntary basis — and operating outside the Communications Act’s 23-year-old MVPD framework. Many OVDs offer essentially the same network and cable programming that traditional MVPDs also distribute — but, increasingly, firms are producing popular, high-quality original video programming for purely online distribution. Their success is an example of positive impact on an industry by a lenient regulatory regime.

“Given fundamental changes in the video marketplace, the 1992 Cable Act looks increasingly outdated, and the courts said as much eight years ago, yet the last two FCC Chairmen refused to reconsider the agency’s approach,” said TechFreedom President Berin Szóka. “Competition is alive and well in the video marketplace, as cable, satellite, and over-the-top providers trip over themselves to get the best content and attract the most eyeballs. Cable’s share of the MVPD subscription video market has tumbled from almost 100% in 1992 to roughly half that today — which doesn’t even count the growing number of Americans, currently one in seven, who have cut the cord completely. There’s no reason that antitrust law can’t protect consumers in this market.”

“After twenty-one years, previous FCC struggles over set-top boxes look increasingly pointless,” continued Szóka. “The 1996 Telecom Act simply failed to anticipate that the video market would move beyond set-top boxes, which modern streaming has made increasingly obsolete. A new approach, like the DSTAC’s apps-based proposal, would ensure continued competition without tying businesses and consumers to an outdated technology. But Congress should also reconsider whether the entire statutory framework still makes sense.”


We can be reached for comment at media@techfreedom.org. See our other work on the media regulation, including: