Outdated video retransmission rules inhibit competition in the pay TV market and hurt consumers, CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) Regional Vice President of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs Jim Campbell will tell two U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee hearings on the pay TV marketplace this week.
Over the past five years, CenturyLink has begun offering its Prism™ TV service to more than 1.5 million homes and has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in deploying high-speed broadband services to support its digital video product.
“While consumers have seen some slowdown in price increases from the incumbent cable provider in the markets where we’ve launched Prism™ TV, true competitive pricing unfortunately has not yet been realized,” Campbell will tell the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Tuesday and the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Wednesday.
“Federal and state policymakers recognize that broadband deployment and video marketplace competition are related and that broadband speeds and adoption increase significantly when it is offered along with video services, which benefits consumers,” he said in prepared testimony.
However, the current retransmission consent regime leaves consumers vulnerable to programming blackouts and offers no protection against escalating prices. “The cost of obtaining must-have broadcast programming continues to increase exponentially and consumers are feeling the impact through increased prices. Broadcasters are effectively using outdated rules to inhibit consumers from receiving the benefits of choice and a truly viable, competitive pay TV marketplace,” Campbell explained.
“CenturyLink favors a deregulatory approach under which the 1992 Cable Act would be amended to allow video providers the right to carry national programming from an adjacent or alternate market during a breakdown in retransmission consent negotiations,” Campbell said in his testimony. “Congress has an opportunity, as part of the reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010, to restore balance to the video retransmission consent marketplace to the ultimate benefit of consumers.”