Public Knowledge Urges Senate to Reject House’s Cable Giveaway

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Today the House of Representatives passed satellite legislation that includes a cable giveaway that harms the set-top box market by voice vote. The STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014, the new House counterpart to the Senate’s STAVRA bill, contains a provision that could drive up cable prices, reduce consumer choice and impede video innovation. Public Knowledge urges the Senate to reject this approach or adopt the Markey amendment, which preserves the opportunity for competition in the set-top box market -- and consumer choice.

The following can be attributed to Martyn Griffen, Government Affairs Associate of Public Knowledge:

“We strongly support Congress acting to guarantee that satellite customers don’t lose service. However, this STELA Reauthorization bill contains a provision pushed by Comcast and the cable industry that would harm the set-top box market, restricting consumer choice for people who don’t even subscribe to satellite. We’ve opposed a House version of the bill before and continue to oppose a Senate version that incorporates a similar provision.

“This bill may be slightly different, but it retains the same problems. It eliminates consumer protections without installing a new safety net in their place. As we told the Senate, harming consumer choice without directing the Federal Communications Commission to create new protections is just bad policy. Make no mistake, this provision is a giveaway to cable providers. It’s also completely unnecessary, sacrificing consumer choice while risking service for millions of satellite customers. Put simply, passing this bill would be bad for anyone who isn’t Comcast or a cable company, and we can’t support that.

“Congress has previously passed clean satellite reauthorizations without attaching cable giveaways. We encourage Congress to step up once again by either rejecting or fixing this version of the STELA Reauthorization bill to protect consumers.”

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