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The New Video Competition: Dances with Regulators

Glen O. Robinson
Columbia Law Review
Vol. 97, No. 4 (May, 1997), pp. 1016-1047
DOI: 10.2307/1123315
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1123315
Page Count: 32
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The New Video Competition: Dances with Regulators
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Abstract

Lifting the ban on local telephone company provision of video programming has been long regarded as key to the promotion of competition in broadband video service. In lifting the ban Congress sought to speed the implementation of competition in the market for video services by offering a new regulatory concept called "open video service" (OVS) which envisions use of a distribution platform for common use by the OVS operator and independent programmers. Professor Robinson reviews the odd history of the ban and offers a critical analysis of the main provisions of the Act and FCC regulations for implementing OVS. While noting that the OVS concept has some appealing attributes, Professor Robinson questions whether Congress and the FCC have provided sufficient incentives for telephone companies or other entrants to choose OVS over other entry modes (such as conventional cable, wireless cable or satellite broadcasting). Congress attempted to provide such an inducement by holding out the promise of regulatory relief for OVS. However, Robinson argues that the promised "relief" masks significant regulatory obligations--obligations that could doom OVS as an important mode of video competition. For Professor Robinson, OVS offers new insights into an old phenomenon--the dance of competition and regulation. Ostensibly regulation of competitive markets is designed to provide a level playing field among competitors. In reality, regulation is a game that reflects a more complex mix of interests and purposes by the regulated firms and by the regulators themselves.

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