Future of video to be subject of House hearing

The pay television business, already under the microscope from the Department of Justice, will be the subject of a congressional hearing as well.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the powerful House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, has called for a meeting of media leaders to examine the future of video and whether the current regulations for media companies, specifically cable operators, have become out of date. The hearing has been scheduled for June 27. No witnesses have been named yet.

“Since the passage of the 1992 Cable Act there has been a sea change in the way that consumers gain access to video content,” Walden said in announcing the hearing. The subcommittee, he added, “will examine how advances in consumer electronics, broadcasting, cable, satellite, the Internet and other platforms are changing how consumers access video content, how those changes are impacted by existing regulations, and what type of regimes should apply going forward.”

The cable industry has been clamoring for a review of the 1992 Cable Act, which was passed amid concerns that cable had become a monopoly. Now, cable is facing increased competition from satellite broadcasters such as DirecTV and Dish Network as well as telecommunication giants AT&T and Verizon. Also, more and more consumers are opting to get content from digital platforms via the Internet and bypass pay-TV services entirely.

Interestingly, while Walden will be examining whether the cable industry needs to be freed of current regulations, the Justice Department is investigating whether cable and satellite operators are attempting to use their leverage in the marketplace to squelch new competition from Internet-based video delivery services.


Walden also announced that the subcommittee will hold a hearing on July 10, 2012, on oversight of the Federal Communications Commission. They will examine how the regulatory agency operates and whether it is “implementing congressional priorities.”


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