New Legislation Wants to Protect Netflix from Major Media Companies

/ Nov 13, 2013


Finally, someone is sticking up for online video. Meet Senator Jay Rockefeller, the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. Senator Rockefeller has a mission, and that is to make sure cable and satellite companies don’t use their endless resources and unlimited reach to stunt streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.

The good Senator is currently in the process of introducing legislation that will prevent cable providers from placing limits on how much programming an online service can have access to. In other words, the bill, which is called The Consumer Choice in Online Video Act, will help OTT services compete against established pay-TV distributors.

Since the rise of OTT services like Netflix and Hulu, many have claimed that media companies are purposely refusing to sell content to online video platforms. The Online Video Act will prevent this type of behavior by ensuring that online video services have equal access to programming.

According to a summary, which is now circulating throughout the web and beyond, Sen. Rockefeller’s proposed bill will place “reasonable limits on the use of contractual provisions in video programming carriage contracts that harm the growth of online video competition.”

The Online Video Act, according to the Senator will also ideally give consumers more choices when it comes to programming via pay-TV and OTT services. “My legislation aims to enable the ultimate a la carte — to give consumers the ability to watch the programming they want to watch, when they want to watch it, how they want to watch it, and pay only for what they actually watch,” the Senator said in a statement unveiling the bill.

Of course, most major media companies aren’t thrilled about this idea. For years, these companies have bundled cable packages together with the intention of selling off less popular channels. It’s why your cable bundle comes with the DIY Network even though you never asked for it. However, media companies swear that selling channels individually, as Rockefeller is proposing they do, would increase the cost of cable service due to the fact that most networks would see a decrease in pay subscribers.

The Senator spoke about the powerful nature of the bill, saying, “I strongly believe that my legislation will help foster a consumer-centric revolution in the video marketplace.”

As revolutionary as it may be, Senator Rockefeller is facing off against almost every major media company who have, and will, continue to aggressively lobby against this type of legislation. The Senator is also retiring in 2014 and the bill currently has no Republican co-sponsors, so the chances of it going through are slim to nil. Well, it was fun while it lasted.

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