As a House panel explored the “Future of Video” this week, NRB trumpeted the place of Christian TV in American media and the vital importance of “Must-Carry” laws, rules that enable many local television broadcast stations, including religious stations, to be viewed on pay-tv platforms.
Dr. Frank Wright, President & CEO of NRB, declared, “Faith-based programming should have an important place in the future of American media. I… encourage Members of the Committee to be careful not to harm long-serving religious TV broadcasting ministries by weakening sound and unobtrusive ‘Must-Carry’ law.”
As it did with audio last month, the Communications & Technology Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee held a hearing on the “Future of Video” on Wednesday. In light of new video market players, an interest in re-evaluating the 1992 law that cemented “Must-Carry” rules was apparent among many Committee Members. In his opening statement, Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) stated, “I, for one, do not believe we should be expanding video regulation…. The last thing we want is to shackle everyone’s entrepreneurial spirit with one-size fits all rules designed for another time…. Cable operators, satellite providers, and broadcasters should be allowed just as much flexibility to respond to competition from the Internet players as we would like the Internet players to have.”
Panelist David Barrett, President & CEO of Hearst Television, spoke on behalf of broadcasters and highlighted the importance of “Must-Carry” law for local broadcasters providing foreign language, religious, and ethnic programming: “These stations often target audiences whose needs are not being met by other programming sources. Because these stations serve narrower audiences, the ability to elect mandatory carriage is important to their continued survival. Carriage of these unique stations‘ signals is important to the diversity of both free over-the-air broadcasting and to the diversity of programming available via MVPD service.”
Also on the panel was Robert Johnson, CEO of NRB Member Sky Angel. Johnson spoke on behalf of faith and family-friendly programming delivered via the Internet. Citing difficulty with the cable industry, Johnson concluded in his remarks, “Sky Angel urges Congress to ensure that there is a level playing field so that it, and other new entrants, may have the opportunity to compete fairly for video subscribers and thus enhance the public interest, and consumer choice, by providing new opportunities and uses for the Internet, now and in the future.” Dr. Frank Wright thanked Chairman Walden for inviting Robert Johnson to testify.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President Government Relations