Groups oppose broadcast signal loan bill

Four groups sent a letter Tuesday to Rep. Tom Bliley, chairman of the Committee

on Commerce, opposing a bill that would subsidize businesses providing broadcast

signals to rural areas via cable, satellites or wireless technology.

"The main point of this is that government can't predict what the best technology

is to reach out and touch the market in these rural areas," said Erik Gustafson,

director of communications and technology policy for Citizens for a Sound

Economy. "The market will fashion a solution," he said.

Under the bill, the Agriculture Department would guarantee loans totaling

$1.25 billion. Each loan could not exceed more than $100 million, except

one, which could not exceed $625 million.

The others that signed the letter include James Gattuso, vice president

for policy and management at the Competitive Enterprise Institute; Adam

Thierer, Alex Walker Fellow in economic policy at The Heritage Foundation;

and Thomas Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste.

The letter said that the Rural Local Broadcast Signal Act "will increase

the role of government in private markets and distort innovation and investment

in the developing communications market."

The bill is currently before the Committee on Commerce.

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