- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2006

We are pleased to see that the FCC has decided to remove from its June 21 agenda a controversial proposal to revisit for a third time “multicast must carry” requirements for cable and satellite providers. In particular, we applaud FCC Commissioners Robert McDowell and Deborah Tate for apparently upholding President Bush’s free-market, deregulatory agenda.

Multicasting requirements are a bad idea in a variety of ways. Multicasting would stifle consumer choice in the video marketplace by forcing cable and satellite providers to carry numerous channels based on the preferences of broadcast programmers, rather than preferences of consumers. Multicasting would restrict choice in the broadband marketplace more generally by forcing cable providers to allocate bandwidth to particular broadcast video channels instead of letting the market decide whether it prefers that bandwidth be devoted to high-speed internet access. Multicasting would remove incentives for cable and satellite providers to expand their broadband capacity by sending the message that the government might just take that capacity if the right interest group makes a play for it. And, as we explained in an editorial last week, multicasting violates the cable and satellite providers’ First and Fifth Amendment rights.

These considerations made it imperative that newly appointed FCC Commissioners Tate and McDowell stand for freedom in the marketplace. The FCC’s decision to step back from pursuing government mandated multicasting shows that they did just that, faithfully implementing the president’s agenda. This is good news for consumers and encourages an already dynamic telecommunications marketplace.

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