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ACA Commends Media Reform Bill Unveiled By Sen. DeMint, Rep. Scalise

ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka applauded U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint and U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise for showing vision and leadership in introducing on Dec. 16 new legislation aimed at reforming a wide range of outdated communications-related laws and regulations.

In a statement, Polka said he was particularly encouraged that the two lawmakers are seeking to update and modernize the laws that govern the video market to promote competition and to better serve the interests of consumers, especially those located in rural markets with unique economic issues.

"ACA greatly appreciates that with this legislation, Congress will open a dialogue - an action long overdue -- on reforming communications laws and regulations that have sat around far too long and failed to keep pace with changes in the market.  Just as a house will develop leaks if the roof is not maintained, laws and regulations need to be updated periodically to ensure they don't inflict harm on consumers," Polka said.

Among other things, the DeMint-Scalise bill would repeal the Communications Act's retransmission consent provisions and the Copyright Act's "compulsory license" provisions, allowing negotiations for the carriage of broadcast stations to occur in something akin to the environment in which negotiations for the carriage of non-broadcast channels occur.  The bill would abolish legal provisions that mandate the carriage  of certain broadcast signals by cable operators, satellite providers, and their customers. Under the bill, the Federal Communications Commission's various media and broadcast ownership restrictions would be done away with.

"Along with Sen. DeMint and Rep. Scalise, ACA agrees that sweeping action is necessary in a number of areas to ensure that communications rules reflect today's market realities," Polka said. "We look forward to meeting and working with the lawmakers on refinements to the legislation in an effort to address the specific concerns of smaller providers who serve smaller markets and rural areas." 

Polka said he hoped the committees of jurisdiction will hold hearings on communications reform next year. He said ACA is encouraged by the interest of DeMint and Scalise and that of other leaders who have signaled their desire to investigate how current law affects competition and serves consumers. The bill's introduction with an entire year remaining in the current Congress clearly indicates growing interest in many of the topics ACA is concerned about.  ACA, Polka said, welcomed the in-depth analysis that all of these policymakers envision.

"ACA is confident that legislation that removes rules and regulations that serve no real public interest purpose in today's market will indeed foster investment, innovation, and consumer choice.  Sen. DeMint and Rep. Scalise should receive high praise for starting us on an important legislative journey that should yield important benefits for every American consumer," Polka said.

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