R Street comments to FCC on modernization of media regulation
The media landscape in America has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past few decades. In the analog era of the 20th century, Americans’ media sources were typically limited to local television broadcasters, local radio stations, and local newspapers. Later, cable news networks, national newspapers, and national radio stations added valuable viewpoint diversity to the media landscape, but it was not until the advent of the commercial internet in the late 1990s and early 2000s that the media landscape truly transformed into the cornucopia of outlets and viewpoints now available to consumers.
Today, Americans enjoy an abundance of media sources from varying outlets and viewpoints, and those trends will likely continue going forward. Viewpoint diversity and localism are vitally important and the Federal Communications Commission should continue to support those initiatives. However, the current media rules and regulations have not kept pace with changes to technology and the media landscape. For this reason, we applaud the commission for launching its media regulation modernization initiative. We appreciate the opportunity to provide comments on ways media regulations should be reformed to better reflect the current media landscape and better serve the commission’s goals of supporting viewpoint diversity and localism.
While the national media ownership cap and the ban on media cross-ownership both should be reconsidered, those are being addressed in a separate proceeding. Here, we focus on the media regulations in Part 76 of the FCC’s rules, which govern access to media by multichannel video programming distributors and online video distributors. In particular, we identify two sets of media regulations—both governing carriage rules for MVPDs—that should be amended or done away with going forward, as the video marketplace continues to shift away from facilities-based MVPDs and toward over-the-top OVDs.
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