Over at Reason.com, I write today about the ongoing Time Warner-CBS blackout and point out that Congress and the FCC have tipped the scales in favor of broadcasters with, inter alia, free spectrum, must-carry power, retrans consent rights, network non-duplication rules, and my personal favorite, syndicated exclusivity privileges. It’s just not a fair negotiating environment. But, and this is important, two wrongs don’t make a right.
Trying to plan the market got us into this mess, and making new rules to try to “even out” the playing field is only further distorting the market. As I say,
Congress should completely deregulate the video distribution marketplace by repealing broadcaster’s special rights. While the they’re at it they should also end compulsory copyright licensing that allows video distributors like cable companies to pay regulated rates for the programs they retransmit, rather than negotiate. And they should privatize the spectrum, rather than continue to give it away to broadcasters in the name of the “public interest.”
You can read the whole thing here. And after you’re done, you can listen to my colleague Adam Thierer make much the same case opposite Susan Crawford on the Diane Rehm Show earlier today. Audio is available here.
Plugs out of the way, I want to take a moment to address a small point that really grinds my gears, as Home Simpson would say. It’s the constant refrain I hear about blackouts that consumers are being “victimized” by the impasse in negotiations. Some examples,
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