Representatives should fix the cable industry, not just intervene in Nationals broadcasts

by editorial staff, roanoke.com

Last week, two U.S. House members from Virginia asked the Federal Communications Commission to delay approving a merger between cable television companies Adelphia Communications Corp. and Comcast Corp.

Adelphia offers cable services in a number of Southwest Virginia communities. Some, such as Martinsville, would likely become Comcast operations if the FCC approves the merger estimated to be worth $17 billion.

Yet the further consolidation of the cable industry and further loss of customer choice in the national marketplace do not worry Reps. Tom Davis and James Moran. No, they are worried about baseball broadcasts.

Comcast is in a spat with Mid-Atlantic Sports Network over airing Washington Nationals games, which is preventing many D.C.-area fans from seeing their team on television.

Davis, Moran and a Maryland representative therefore asked the FCC to make binding arbitration between Comcast and MASN a condition of approval for the merger. Moreover, the entire House last week passed a resolution asking the FCC to act.

Do they have nothing better to do?

There are sometimes good reasons to intervene in free markets. Baseball broadcasting is not one of them. With the soft regulations that encourage near-monopoly service from behemoth cable providers, this sort of fight is inevitable. If Congress wants to do something, it should tackle the root of the problem.

Besides, Nationals fans are not missing much. The team is in last place in its division.

article originally published at http://www.roanoke.com/editorials/wb/wb/xp-72989.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey