Free Press on Cable Act Review: Keep Consumers Top of Mind

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According to Free Press, the problem with the Cable Act of 1992 is not that the laws are too old or that there are not enough of them, it is with how they are exploited by industry players with the aid of government inaction.

While Free Press does not have a seat at the witness table for Tuesday's Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the Act 20 years later, it has plenty to say about it.

In a statement in advance of the hearing, Free Press policy director Joel Kelsey said the discussion in that hearing room would be a lot about retransmission consent rules and the power struggles between broadcast and cable operators. Instead, he says, the real problem is incumbents using the rules to serve their bottom lines and "policymakers sit by and refuse to enforce the law in ways that promote effective competition, encourage innovation and benefit the public."

Free Press has been critical of usage caps, for example, and what it says has been an effort to disadvantage over-the-top providers like Netflix and Amazon.

The hearing is likely to touch on numerous topics, including online distribution and program access and program carriage issues.

Representing the consumer groups is Mark Cooper of Consumer Federation, who shares many of Free Press' concerns about industry power, including over over-the-top delivery, and government enforcement.