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Public Knowledge Welcomes Television Viewer Protection Act to Protect Consumers

November 13, 2019 , , ,

Yesterday, House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA) introduced the “Television Viewer Protection Act of 2019” to prevent consumers from experiencing blackouts and runaway price increases for video content. Public Knowledge welcomes many provisions of the bill and applauds Rep. Doyle for working to protect American video subscribers, but urges Congress to enable satellite TV subscribers to access broadcast content come January 1, 2020.

The following can be attributed to Jenna Leventoff, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“We are pleased Congressman Doyle has introduced legislation to reauthorize provisions that, when adequately enforced, ensure video providers and broadcasters negotiate in good faith to reduce blackouts and keep prices down for consumers.

“That being said, provisions of the law that allow consumers to access this essential content after the ball drops on New Year’s Eve must still be extended. Unless the distant signal license is also reauthorized, hundreds of thousands of consumers could lose the ability to enjoy broadcast network content — including news, sports, and entertainment — come New Year’s Day. 

“While we have advocated for a permanent reauthorization of both the distant signal and good-faith retransmission consent provisions, Congressman Doyle’s five-year reauthorization of the good-faith retransmission consent negotiation requirement will protect consumers from being pawns in negotiations between large companies, giving Congress time to consider important changes to the videoplace market rules.

“Congressman Doyle’s proposal will also increase transparency in advertising and billing for video, internet, and phone service. This provision, also championed in the Senate by Sen. Markey, will ensure that consumers aren’t breaking the bank for vital communications services.”

You may view our recent letter urging Congress to provide a permanent solution for satellite TV subscribers for more information.