Twenty-one years later, incumbent cable companies no longer have a monopoly in the video market. Reconciliation of present rules with market realities is needed immediately. While
Customers of new entrants become victims of competitive choice
While customers of larger cable and satellite companies are subject to blackouts with increasing frequency, tied carriage and non-negotiable rates create additional competitive hurdles for alternative providers. On the one hand, because we are a relatively new video option in most of the markets we serve, we can ill-afford even a small number of subscriber defections should we lose the right to carry a local station. Yet, given the massive capital investments we have made in order to provide consumers with a competitive alternative, we also cannot simply give in to whatever the broadcasters demand - including not only exorbitant rates but also the tied carriage of additional broadcast and non-broadcast services that are of limited interest to our customers.
While the loss of a signal will severely harm a new entrant and its customers, it will pose little risk to the broadcaster given its ability to continue to make its programming available to other video programming distributors as well as to transmit it for free over the air and the Internet. And the harm does not end there. Broadcasters often take further advantage of their leverage over new entrants by imposing even more onerous terms than those demanded of incumbent providers.
In addition to the direct adverse impact that outdated retransmission consent rules have on the consumers who end up bearing the cost of the broadcasters' demands, they also threaten the consumer benefits of local facilities-based video provider choice such as innovative service and product offerings, differentiated programming, pricing options, and broader deployment of high speed broadband.
The impact on consumers
The recent retransmission n consent dispute between
And, in fact, it is well estaablished that the cost to MVPDs of obtaining br roadcast programming has been and conti inues to increase exponentially and consumers arre feeling the impact through increased prices. SNL Kagan projects retransmission fees paid to o broadcasters by video providers could reach a a total of
In turn, these high content costs have resulted in higher video service prices. For instance, according to the
The solution: Modernize the Cable Act to restore a level-negotiating table during retransmission consent negotiations
The significant regulatory advantages that
At the end of the day, this is not about winners and losers. It is about consumers and the future of a truly competitive marketplace. At the current rate of change, the real harm is occurring now for consumers who are required to pay for increases in real dollars. At some point, the model breaks. Local broadcasters are effectively using outdated rules to inhibit consumers from receiving the benefits of program choice and a truly viable, competitive marketplace.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. We look forward to working with members of the Committee to accomplish legislative reform in the evolving video marketplace. We are confident that rapid and meaningful reform will encourage new entrants like
n1 The average monthly price of expanded basic service is the combined price of basic service and the most subscribed cable programming service tier excluding taxes, fees and equipment charges.
Read this original document at: http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/113th/09102013/CenturyLink%20Campbell%20testimony%20091013.pdf
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