Walden to examine legal disparities in the video marketplace

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) recently announced that he plans to further investigate legal disparities regarding innovation in the video marketplace.

Walden, the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, said that he plans to hold a hearing in September on the legal regimes that control the delivery of video content to consumers.

“Whether over the air from local broadcasters, through a paid subscription to a satellite, cable or fiber provider or streaming over the internet, consumers have unprecedented access to view quality video content,” Walden said. “Each of these technologies faces a different regime of laws and regulations that have been developed over the last four decades.”

The subcommittee will explore the laws to ensure that they are still serving the needs of consumers, content creators, broadcasters and video distributors in today’s communications marketplace.

The hearing is part of the subcommittee’s effort to thoroughly inspect the relevance of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act, which includes measures set to expire at the end of 2014.

The subcommittee also recently conducted hearings on STELA’s satellite television laws. Members questioned whether they still serve a legitimate purpose or are irrelevant in the current video marketplace.

STELA was passed in 1998 to provide the nascent satellite industry a boost in providing distant broadcast signals to viewers out of range of local over-the-air signals.

“Today, however, DirecTV and Dish control one third of the pay TV market and are the second and third largest pay TV providers behind Comcast,” Walden said. “I believe in good process, and one of our responsibilities is to make sure we operate publicly and transparently, giving the American people and stakeholders an opportunity to see what is happening and to contribute to the dialogue.”

Changes in the video market industry and phone companies’ entrance in the video business industry, in addition to Netflix’s new role in original programming, are other reasons to reevaluate STELA, according to Walden.