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Blessing Introduces Arbitration Legislation

State Representative Lou Blessing (R-Cincinnati) has introduced HB377, the "Cable Antidiscrimination and Dispute Resolution Act of 2007," in the Ohio House of Representatives. The bill implements a mandatory dispute resolution mechanism in the form of a third-party in situations where cable operators and programmers can't negotiate an agreement over programming.

Similar legislation has been introduced in Illinois.

Editorials and columns opposing the legislation have been printed in the Columbus Dispatch, Lima News, and Bucyrus Telegraph Forum since the bill's introduction.

Statement Issued by OCTA on HB 377
Thursday, November 1, 2007

Earlier this afternoon, Rep. Lou Blessing (R-Cincinnati) introduced a bill (HB 377) in the Ohio House that mandates arbitration between programmers and cable operators that own competing channels in the event that the cable operator and the programmer can not reach a voluntary carriage agreement. This legislation has been introduced on behalf of the National Football League, which has launched its own programming network.

The OCTA opposes any legislation that moves private contract negotiations from the open marketplace to the halls of government. Government should not intervene in private, commercial contractual negotiations. These matters are best left to the marketplace where video service providers compete with one another on services, prices, and features. It is inappropriate for government to intervene in private business, and is why this legislation is opposed by other advocacy groups including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants.

The OCTA believes that this legislation is bad public policy as private entities should be free to negotiate without governmental interference.

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