Letter Supporting H.R. 4307, the "Consumer Freedom of Choice in Cable Act"
December 7, 2007
The Honorable Marsha W. Blackburn
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative Blackburn:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, strongly supports H.R. 4307, the "Consumer Freedom of Choice in Cable Act." Recognizing that competition exists in the multichannel video marketplace, the bill repeals section 612(g) of the Communications Act, an antiquated provision that may be exploited by some members of the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) to justify increased regulation of the cable industry.
Commonly referred to as the "70/70" test, section 612(g) states that if cable systems with 36 or more activated channels are available to 70% of U.S. households and are subscribed to by 70% of those households, the "Commission may promulgate any additional rules necessary to provide diversity of information sources." Section 612(g) relates solely to leased access. Using the provision to justify regulating any other aspect of cable, such as cable ownership or the ways cable operators package or price their program offerings, would violate congressional intent.
When the provision was enacted in 1984, cable competition did not exist and cable customers only had access to a limited number of channels. Leased access and the "70/70" test were intended by Congress to ensure the diversity of program choices available to cable subscribers. The cable industry has made immense contributions to program diversity in the last two decades, and with more competition from two national DBS providers and new entrants such as their local telephone company, consumers have unprecedented choices.
The marketplace is working. No market failure exists that justifies re-regulating the cable industry. Imposing new burdensome rules on the industry would create regulatory uncertainty, hinder infrastructure investment, harm innovation, reduce consumer choice, and slow the deployment of new technologies. The Chamber supports repealing Section 612(g) because it is outdated and fails to recognize the competitive state of today's multichannel video marketplace.
The Chamber looks forward to working with you as H.R. 4307 moves through Congress.
R. Bruce Josten