FCC chairman Tom Wheeler dropped a pretty broad hint last month that the commission is gearing up to reclassify at least some over-the-top video services as multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) as described in the Communications Act, putting them on roughly the same regulatory footing as cable and satellite providers.
In theory, the change could make it easier for services like Sling TV and Apple’s long-rumored subscription video service to add local broadcast channels to their lineups because it would extend the same retransmission consent rules to online video distributors as apply to cable and satellite providers.
Under the current retrans rules, broadcasters are required to enter “good faith” negotiations with any qualified MVPD for carriage of their signals. Similar rules, which presumably would also be extended to OTT services, require that cable networks owned by or affiliated with cable operators, such as the NBC Universal cable networks now owned by Comcast, must make their programming available to all other MVPDs.
Whether any OTT services actually want to be classified as MVPDs, however could be another matter. Read More »