In a recent debate on CNBC, my friend Gary Shapiro – head of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) – said the Obama Administration was “the most anti-business” of his lifetime. He went on to condemn the large number of proposed regulations and said of regulators, “They don’t care about business or the consequences of the rules they are proposing.”
I applaud Gary for speaking his mind, but feel a need to call his bluff. Because while he is vehemently condemning some 200-plus new regulations that would cost industry hundreds of millions of dollars if implemented, Gary and CEA are leading an effort to push the FCC to adopt new regulations that would impose substantial costs on cable and other video providers, and that would have the very government bureaucrats that he so disdains set technical standards on a marketplace that is exploding with innovation.
And yes, I’m referring to the “AllVid” proceeding that has been hanging, like Damocles’ sword, over the industry for more than a year. If implemented as Gary and CEA would like, an All Vid mandate would force video providers (job-producing business owners) to break up their services in a manner that would strip away valuable (and popular) content and allow competitors to pick and choose which pieces they want. Such regulation would not only rip apart the fabric of a market that 100 million consumers participate in, it would also drive up costs in an economic era when consumers are already feeling pinched.
And why do we need these rules? Video providers and services are already bringing new and innovative services to market – from streaming live TV to iPads, enabling consumers to watch video on multiple devices in and out of the home and delivering video straight to “smart” TVs without needing a set-top box – without government mandates.
The AllVid proceeding is the classic example of the jobs-killing, cost-raising, innovation-crushing regulation that Gary blasts as anti-business. He should be true to his principles and walk away, and the FCC should shut down the proceeding and let the market continue working.