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WASHINGTON -- On Tuesday, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller introduced the Consumer Choice in Online Video Act. The bill would help online video companies like Netflix compete alongside traditional pay-TV providers and would keep broadband Internet service providers from trying to squelch those alternatives.

According to the senator's statements and early press accounts, the bill would give online video providers more rights to negotiate access to popular content. It would keep broadband providers like Comcast and Time Warner Cable from degrading online video services that compete with traditional cable TV offerings. And it would clarify broadband billing to guard against discriminatory pricing and let customers know what they're paying for.

Free Press recommended these policy solutions and others in its report Combating the Cable Cabal, released last spring.

Free Press Action Fund Policy Director Matt Wood made the following statement:

“The Consumer Choice in Online Video Act will move us toward lower prices for the content we want to watch, when and where we want to watch it. Video offerings will continue to grow, but only if our laws shield that evolution from cable companies that would rather keep their customers hooked on expensive and confusing service bundles.

“Powerful cable, Internet and broadcast companies shouldn’t be allowed to run roughshod over online video competitors. This bill would keep those incumbents from discriminating against online options, and would help put those alternatives on a more equal footing with traditional providers.

“We’re pleased this bill reaffirms the FCC’s role in promoting real competition and protecting consumers. True competition can’t exist in a broken video market.
“We look forward to working with Senator Rockefeller and his staff to ensure this bill is implemented in a way that empowers consumers.”

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