Washington, DC – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) delivered the following opening statement at a Communications, Technology, and the Internet Subcommittee Hearing on Satellite Home Viewer Act Reauthorization Issues:


Statement of U.S. Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass,)
Communications, Technology, and the Internet Subcommittee
Hearing on Satellite Home Viewer Act Reauthorization Issues
February 23, 2009

Good morning.  I want to commend Subcommittee Chairman Boucher for calling this timely oversight hearing on issues related to the Satellite Home Viewer Act.  This Subcommittee has acted in many instances in the satellite area to safeguard the interests of video consumers and to foster increased competition and innovation.

A decade ago, I successfully offered the "local-to-local" amendment that made it possible for direct broadcast satellite (DBS) companies to offer consumers their local broadcast channels as part of a seamless satellite video service offering.  This new legal ability dramatically increased the competitive prospects for the DBS companies
against incumbent cable operators. 

The rise in subscribership to satellite service in urban and suburban America as a result of my "local-to-local" amendment had another beneficial consequence.  It
induced cable operators to invest heavily in greater bandwidth for additional channel capacity, enhanced picture quality, and to offer broadband and voice services in a headlong effort to distinguish its services in competition with DBS satellite.  The point is that even if
consumers stuck with their local friendly cable operator, such consumers have also benefited from the satellite competition this Subcommittee fostered.

In previous legislative consideration of these issues, questions have been raised about out-of-market signal carriage of broadcast signals, as well as the applicability of syndicated exclusivity, sports blackout, and network non-duplication rules that were adopted originally decades ago to protect the interests of free over-the-air broadcasters and the viability of their services.  As the march of
digital technology moves inexorably forward it is appropriate to once again examine all of these issues so that our laws and regulations not only keep pace with changes in technology, but so that we may reassert policy support for the long-held communications values of localism and
diversity in a manner that also embraces competition and innovation.

The consumer ultimately should be beneficiary of the policies we advance in this area.  I again want to commend Chairman Boucher for calling this important hearing this morning and for the excellent panel of witnesses the Subcommittee has assembled today.

Thank you.  I yield back. 

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February 23, 2009

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