FCC Makes Proposal to Expand Definition of MVPDs to Include Internet-TV Services

/ Dec 19, 2014

cutting the cord

Two months ago, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler floated the idea of updating the definition of an “MVPD” (multi-channel video programming distributor) to include internet-based pay-TV services. Now, the FCC is moving forward with its plans to do exactly that.

The agency has issued a formal proposal that would, in its words, “modernize the definition of a multi-channel video programming distributor to reflect that video services are no longer tied to a particular distribution technology.”

“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,” the FCC added in its announcement.

But the changes would also help out “nascent, web-based video programming services,” according to the Commission, by giving them the same type of access to content that established cable and satellite companies have.

It’s important to remember that while an expansion of the definition of MVPD, if confirmed, would certainly bring about change in the TV industry, it does not really apply to companies like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and YouTube. The proposal is for distributors of multiple “linear video programming streams,” not on-demand content, which is what the aforementioned four streaming companies specialize in.

It could have helped Aereo, which tried to offer linear TV channels over the web, and would certainly apply to internet-TV services being built by the likes of Sony, Verizon, and Dish Network.

Next up for the FCC, the comment period, through which it can fine-tune or completely change the proposal based on who says what and how influential they are.

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