On June 7, 2014, The American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research submitted a letter to Senator Thune regarding the upcoming STELA reauthorization. The text of the bill is as follows:
July 7, 2014
The Honorable John Thune
United States Senate SD-511
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Thune:
As you consider STELA reauthorization, the American Consumer Institute would encourage you to look instead to comprehensive video marketplace reforms next year. As you have said, there is a “bipartisan consensus that our communications laws are outdated.” However, it is unlikely that the Senate will have the time to deliberate and fully discuss more extensive video marketplace reforms this year. A broad, all-inclusive approach is needed in order to examine all of the regulations that apply to all of the providers in the video marketplace of today – cable, satellite, broadcast and streaming – but that will, by the very nature of how vast the marketplace has become, take time.
The original intent of STELA was to encourage the budding satellite television industry, which in 1995 was considered a “startup” industry. Today, two decades later, satellite TV is a well-established industry serving more than 30 million US subscribers and accounts for more than 30% of the pay TV market share. Given this developed marketplace, it would be wise to consider letting STELA expire. Knowing that this scenario is unlikely, we encourage you to simply reauthorize the legislation, as the Senate Judiciary Committee has, and seek the right time and the right vehicle to enact significant reforms that will truly deregulate the video marketplace.
Moving ahead with a STELA reauthorization that includes any anemic attempts at deregulation that apply to only one of the many players in the dynamically competitive marketplace could inadvertently jeopardize much needed comprehensive reforms. In other words, adding new regulations and provisions now to STELA will only complicate holistic reforms in the future. With that in mind, I urge you to wait until an exhaustive examination of regulations of all players in the marketplace can take place, and a genuine effort to deregulate the video marketplace can be undertaken.
The American Consumer Institute applauds your leadership on this issue, and we encourage you to stay strong with your pro-consumer, limited government approach. We look forward to working with you as you consider a more comprehensive look at communications regulations next year. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or would like additional information. I look forward to seeing you continue to lead the way in pushing for the rights of the consumer.
President and CEO
American Consumer Institute
1701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20006