Internet entertainment streaming services such as FilmOn and Aereo could benefit from proposed changes to the definition of a multichannel video programming distributor.
The Federal Communications Commission has adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that asks for comment on how to modernise the definition to reflect that video services are no longer tied to a particular distribution technology.
The Commission proposes to interpret the definition of an MVPD to include providers that make multiple linear streams of video programming available for purchase, regardless of the technology used to distribute the programming. This is an important step in making sure the Commission’s regulations accommodate the technology transition occurring in the video distribution industry. This consumer-focused approach would ensure that incumbent providers will continue to be subject to the pro-competitive regulations that apply to MVPDs as they transition their services to Internet protocol delivery. It also would ensure that nascent, web-based video programming services will have access to the content they need to compete with established providers.
Specifically, the NPRM proposes to interpret the term MVPD to encompass distributors of multiple linear video programming streams, including Internet-based services, and asks for comment on:
An alternative interpretation that would require an MVPD to have control over a transmission path;
How each interpretation would impact MVPDs, consumers, and content owners, and how each would promote competition and broadband adoption;
How the Commission should apply its retransmission consent ‘good faith’ negotiation rules with respect to Internet-based MVPDs to protect local broadcasters; and
Whether these proposals would affect the regulatory status of IP-delivered video services by cable operators and DBS providers.
Comments and reply comments will be due 30 and 45 days after publication in the Federal Register.
Although Aereo is in administration and unlikely to benefit itself, its technology could be used by any service licensed accordingly. FilmOn founder Alki David said that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and the Commissioners had taken the right decision despite the lobbying of a monopolistic few. “What they have done is embrace the rights and freedoms of the American people. Minorities and Special interest groups will be able to have as much access to audiences as the Majors. No more spectrum or bandwidth limitations no more fraudulent ratings systems. Many games have been played over the years to try and put us out of business. Now its time to do business with us,” he declared.