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CONTACT: Amy Smorodin
February 24, 2009
(202) 289-8928
Satellite Video Regulatory Structure Outdated
PFF's Ferree Testifies Before U.S. House Communications Subcommittee

WASHINGTON D.C. - While considering renewal of the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act, Congress should take into account the current competitive market for video delivery services, stated Ken Ferree in testimony presented today to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet.  Specifically, they should amend rules that prevent DBS carriers from providing consumers signals from stations located within their state of residence and refrain from imposing enhanced carriage mandates on satellite video distributors.

Ferree, President of The Progress & Freedom Foundation, explained that the video marketplace is increasingly competitive, with consumers having a choice between satellite, cable and Internet video delivery options.  "As a practical matter," Ferree stated, "technological innovation will render obsolete many of the restrictions that we accept as necessary to protect marketplace exclusivity within specific geographic regions."

Ferree urged the Committee to address consumer issues resulting from the use of Designated Market Areas (DMAs) to define local carriage restrictions.  Specifically, he cited cases in which viewers receive "local" broadcast service via their satellite operator from neighboring cities and states because of DMA boundaries.  "At minimum," stated Ferree, "viewers who reside in a DMA such that their local broadcaster is licensed to a neighboring state should be allowed to receive programming from in-state stations in adjacent markets."

Ferree also recommended Congress refrain from imposing local must-carry requirements on satellite video service providers.  "Carriage requirements impose significant burdens on the commercial and First Amendment rights of those bound by them," he explained.  "In the current environment, imposing enhanced carriage mandates on DBS operators would be unwarranted, economically indefensible, and unconstitutional."

Ferree's written testimony for the U.S. House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet's hearing, "Reauthorization of the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act," is available on the PFF website.

The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.



The Progress & Freedom Foundation