National Consumers League

NCL letter to Rockefeller on 'Local Choice' proposal

September 11, 2014

The Honorable John D. Rockefeller IV
Chairman
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
United States Senate
254 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20002

Re:      “Local Choice” and Communications Act Update

Dear Senator Rockefeller:

On behalf of the National Consumers League[1] (NCL), I am writing to give you our thoughts regarding your and Ranking Member Thune’s “Local Choice” proposal, should it be considered as part of an update to the Communications Act.

NCL has long supported federal policies that would end blackouts of programming stemming from retransmission consent negotiations between broadcasters and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs).[2] We also support additional choice and bill transparency for cable television subscribers.

In addition, we urge the Committee to seek solutions that achieve these goals while also preserving the viability of local broadcasters. Today – the 13th anniversary of September 11, 2001 -- we are reminded of the critical role that local television broadcasters play in informing the public during times of crisis. Absent local broadcasters, consumers could be left without a crucial source of information when disasters strike. Enabling universal access to local broadcast stations is, we believe, an essential American value.

We understand that the “Local Choice” amendment to the Satellite Television Access and Viewer Rights Act (STAVRA) will not be considered during this Congress.[3]  We hope that these issues will be part of the discussions surrounding a possible update to the Communications Act. We urge you and your colleagues on the Commerce Committee to seek a solution that both preserves the important role that local broadcasting plays in communities across America while increasing cable bill transparency and ending blackouts.

Sincerely,

Sally Greenberg
Executive Director
National Consumers League

cc:        The Honorable John Thune, Ranking Member


[1] The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is the nation’s pioneering consumer organization.  Our non-profit mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad.  For more information, visit http://www.nclnet.org.  

[2] National Consumers League. “Consumers are the ultimate losers in retransmission consent fights,” Press Release. August 6, 2013. Online: http://www.nclnet.org/consumers_are_ultimate_losers_in_retransmission_consent_fights

[3] Eggerton, John. “Sources: Local Choice Expected to Be Pulled from STAVRA,” Broadcasting & Cable. September 9, 2014. Online: http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/washington/sources-local-choice-expected-be-pulled-stavra/133838