FCC Considers Adding Internet-Streamed Video Services to MVPD Definition

Today, video delivered over the Internet is not subject to the same regulations as programming delivered by multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs). In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published in yesterday’s Federal Register, the FCC would expand the definition of MVPD to include subscription services delivering multiple linear streams of video programming, regardless of the technology used to distribute the programming. This expansion would include new streaming video providers.

The FCC is accepting comments on the proposal until February 17 and reply comments until March 2.

Current MVPDs are bound by rules regarding program carriage, competitive availability of navigation devices, good faith negotiations with broadcasters for retransmission consent, equal employment opportunities, providing closed captioning and video descriptions, access to emergency information, signal leakage, inside wiring, and loudness of commercials. Expanding the definition of MVPD also would expand the current MVPD rules to companies that provide live streaming video from multiple channels for a fixed subscription fee.

Even with these proposed changes, some video providers would be subject to more regulation than others. Subscription on-demand, transactional on-demand, and ad-based linear and on-demand service providers would not be included in the new definition. In addition, content owners would have the ability to directly distribute their content without regulations.

The FCC has two alternatives for ownership of the facilities to the end user. Its preferred option would not require the MVPD to own the facilities that transport the video signal to the end users. The other option would require all MVPDs to own the video transport, even if it is only a broadband connection.

Copyright law could be a stumbling point for the FCC’s proposed rules. Some content creators and owners contend that redefining MVPD to include Internet-based distributors would conflict with current copyright law.

Overall, the proposed changes would ensure that the FCC would continue to regulate video services well into the future in spite of major shifts in how video content is delivered to customers. The proposed rules also try to level the playing field for a limited set of over-the-top video providers.

If you have any questions or would like to file comments on this NPRM, please contact Valerie Wimer at 301-459-7590.

Source: Source email