We’ll be marking the middle of summer with Independence Day celebrations next week, yet there is still no Senate Commerce Committee bill regarding the reauthorization of “STELA”, which is set to expire at the end of the year. The delay is likely due to the desire of some to use STELA as a vehicle for enacting piecemeal changes to the video laws. In the meantime, however, the STELA clock continues to wind down. At this hour, it should be clear that neither industry nor consumers would be well served by a video reform race against the clock.
Meaningful video reform would require a more thorough examination of the video marketplace and the potential impact of changing the laws that govern it. As CBIT noted in its recent white paper, “The Future of Broadcast Television”, the video reform debate has thus far been narrowly focused on only two options: (1) Preserving the status quo or (2) eliminating only the video regulations that enable television stations to meet their unique “public interest” obligations. Neither option is intended to harness market forces to meet consumer demand. Eliminating distortions in the video marketplace would require a truly comprehensive approach to video reform that does more than the limited options presented by industry.
With only six months left on the STELA clock, Congress is running out of time to adequately consider a more comprehensive, market-oriented approach to video reform. Though the current legislative framework undoubtedly distorts the video marketplace, rushing piecemeal reforms through the STELA reauthorization process would only result in more market distortions. Congress should take the time to do it right and consider video reform in the #CommActUpdate process, not STELA.