After yesterday’s FCC meeting, it appears that Chairman Wheeler has a finely tuned microscope trained on broadcasters and a proportionately large blind spot for the cable television industry.
Yesterday’s FCC meeting was unabashedly pro-cable and anti-broadcaster. The agency decided to prohibit television broadcasters from engaging in the same industry behavior as cable, satellite, and telco television distributors and programmers. The resulting disparity in regulatory treatment highlights the inherent dangers in addressing regulatory reform piecemeal rather than comprehensively as contemplated by the #CommActUpdate. Congress should lead the FCC by example and adopt a “clean” approach to STELA reauthorization that avoids the agency’s regulatory mistakes.
The FCC meeting offered a study in the way policymakers pick winners and losers in the marketplace without acknowledging unfair regulatory treatment. It’s a three-step process.
- First, the policymaker obfuscates similarities among issues by referring to substantively similar economic activity across multiple industry segments using different terminology.
- Second, it artificially narrows the issues by limiting any regulatory inquiry to the disfavored industry segment only.
- Third, it adopts disparate regulations applicable to the disfavored industry segment only while claiming the unfair regulatory treatment benefits consumers.
The broadcast items adopted by the FCC yesterday hit all three points. Continue reading →