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Testimony On Future Of Video At Senate Hearing

BY Heather Greenfield
May 15, 2013
Senate Commerce subcommittee chairman Mark Pryor opened his hearing on the Future of Video Tuesday saying Congress wants to update laws so that people can get the content they want and that it’s affordable.  The conversation quickly turned to a la carte channel pricing and sports team broadcasting and the frustration of fans and satellite and cable subscribers when they can’t watch their hometown team.

Senator John McCain, who has introduced legislation to let consumers buy individual channels,  visited the hearing room to advocate for his bill and for ending transmission blackouts for teams that play in publicly funded stadiums. Another senator asked whether there is a competition problem that was interfering with a company being able to offer consumers more of what they want.

Stanton Dodge, executive vice president and general counsel for DISH networks told the committee one way to bring more competition would be to allow companies like his to import a distant signal so that broadcasters have an incentive to offer a more competitive retransmission rate.

DISH is a member of CCIA and Dodge added:

“We believe Congress should safeguard viewer choice in the increasingly frequent and highly unfortunate phenomenon of retransmission consent disputes and ?blackouts. When a local broadcast station is pulled from a consumer due to a retransmission dispute, video distributors should be able to temporarily provide another market’s network signal and prevent the total disenfranchisement of the consumer. The reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010 (?STELA) gives Congress the opportunity to enact this important reform.”

Congress has to redo STELA by 2014. Dodge added that DISH also supports DMA reform so that customers can watch their local teams.

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