Written Testimonies & Filings

Testimony of Geoffrey A. Manne, Hearing on ‘The Satellite Television Law: Repeal, Reauthorize or Revise?’, House Energy and Commerce Committee


“Today’s video marketplace is shaped by a byzantine set of rules from a bygone era. In the 1990s, cable was as mighty as the Byzantines themselves were at the height of their power: Cable’s control over the single physical conduit to the home gave cable providers gatekeeper power over video programming, much as the Byzantines’ control over the Eastern Mediterranean gave them control over commerce.

But cable today is simply one of several competing conduits for video programming distribution. Today’s regulations were intended to prevent cable from thwarting the rise of satellite DBS service. They have succeeded: Virtually the entire country has access to the two primary DBS providers in addition to a cable provider. Meanwhile, telcos like AT&T and Verizon have offered a fourth alternative to cable in a third of the country. Even more importantly, the MVPD paradigm is increasingly being challenged by consumers either switching to an OVD like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon (“cord-cutting”) or cutting back on their MVPD subscription and relying, in part, on an OVD (“cord-shaving”)….”

“Rather that continuing to try to tweak the laws of a bygone era, Congress should embrace the default tool for dealing with market power across the economy: antitrust law. Properly applied, antitrust is perfectly capable of governing a market in which programmers have clear property rights for their content. Indeed, antitrust is the best tool for policing market power in evolving (if not perfectly competitive) markets, to ensure that distributors with market power do not use their power to harm consumers, while recognizing the benefits that come from experimentation in new ways and business models for delivering video content to consumers….”