WASHINGTON (Sept. 30, 2019) – A key video law, the STELAR Reauthorization Act of 2014, is set to expire at the end of this year. Congress has reauthorized this law every five years since it was first passed in 1988, but it is unclear this time whether it will be reauthorized for another five years or finally expire. Hearings were held on the matter in June, and Congress will likely hold more hearings this fall.
In a new policy study, R Street Manager of Technology and Innovation Tom Struble examines the provisions in STELAR, analyzes a recent bill that would eliminate STELAR and replace it with a new system of video laws, and offers suggestions for other updates to our video laws that Congress should consider.
Struble argues that STELAR made sense in the ’80s and ’90s when satellite TV was a new entrant in need of protection, but it’s now an outdated and unfair subsidy for satellite multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) that should be abandoned. There are many other outdated relics in our video laws that should also be abandoned, Struble claims, such as undue restrictions on broadcast ownership and burdensome must-carry obligations. The video marketplace has never been more competitive than it is today. Congress should recognize this and unleash market forces by eliminating outdated video laws, while keeping the core of these laws intact.
Struble concludes, “the laws governing our video marketplace have gone almost entirely unchanged since the 1990s, despite recent technological advancements that are radically reshaping the way Americans produce, distribute and consume video content.”