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The TWC and CBS blackout debacle is showing once again that we need to reform our video market. For this to happen, the people have to be vocal and call for reform. The McCain/Blumenthal Cable Bill – S.912 is the first step on that path and it needs more co-sponsors.
Even the most ardent free market mavens will tell you, the current system where broadcasters can withdraw their free broadcast signal and demand payment for retransmitting it has nothing to do with a free market.
It all started with the market distorting gift of free broadcast licenses to use the public airwaves to broadcasters like CBS by the government. In exchange for this and other regulatory goodies, they have one responsibility – provide free programming to the public in their local market. For reasons I won’t get into (but you can read about at length here), Congress in 1992 gave broadcasters the right to demand cable operators pay to retransmit this free broadcasting signal, thus spawning the current consumer-abuse machine known as “retransmission consent.”