Bounce TV Cofounder MLK III Tells Senate to Reject DeMint Bill

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Add Bounce TV cofounder Martin Luther King III to the list of broadcasters not eager for the Congress to take out the deregulatory broom otherwise known as the Next Generation Television Marketplace Act (S. 2008).

That bill, offered up by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), would sweep away the retrans/must-carry regime as well as the compulsory copyright license and cable and broadcast ownership regs.

In a letter to Sen. Commerce Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) dated Aug. 3, King said it was "critical" that Rockefeller's committee reject the bill. Currently the Senate is on August recess, and nothing is likely to happen on that front until the next Congress anyway. But the issue or major FCC reg reform continues to be on many minds in Washington, including Rockefeller's at a recent hearing on the 1992 Cable Act at which the DeMint bill was a topic of discussion.

Without retrans revenues, says King, some broadcasters will not be able to fund diverse programming. "While the sponsors of S. 2008 naively promise a more robust U.S. television marketplace when these rules are repealed, the revers will happen," says King. "Broadcasters will lose the financial flexibility to fund diverse programming, both on a broadcasters' prime channel and on the digital subchannels that are allowing Bounce TV to entertain and inform previously neglected African-American viewers.

The National Association of Broadcasters has already been showcasing Bounce and other diverse multicast services as it advocates for preserving the reach and quality of existing broadcast services that do not choose to give up spectrum to wireless broadband.