The Weird Double Standard of AllVid's Boosters

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Consumer electronics companies like Sony want to provide content exclusively through their own devices — but they don’t think cable or satellite TV providers should be afforded the same right.

Sony and Google are lobbying hard for the FCC’s AllVid proposal, which would mandate a universal video interface for pay-television service providers by forcing them to deliver TV programming and related data to any compatible IP video device.

“Providing a common IP-based link between gateway and client devices will break down the last, archaic distinctions among classes of devices that impede competition and that have been eliminated in markets other than television,” the companies asserted in Jan. 26 comments. Sony and Google were joined by the Consumer Electronics Association, along with the CEA. the Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition and three activist groups: Public Knowledge, Free Press and Media Access Project.

But wait a second — “archaic“?

You mean like Sony’s own brand-new Qriocity service, which makes video and music available exclusively through Sony PlayStation 3s, Sony HDTVs and Sony Blu-ray Disc players? (See Qriocity Launches In Canada.)

Or look at Apple’s iTunes, which allows content playback only on Apple TV boxes, Apple iPhones or iPods, or via Apple software.

It’s no wonder that the MVPDs targeted by the FCC’s AllVid are wondering why companies like Sony, Netflix or Apple shouldn’t also be considered “multichannel video programming distributors,” subject to the same cumbersome rules those players are pushing for (see DirecTV Asks FCC To Clarify What An ‘MVPD’ Is).

The NCTA, in a filing earlier this week, asserted that AllVid would contravene copyright, trademark, contract and licensing rights (see NCTA To FCC: Google Proposal Would Deconstruct MVPD Model). The cable industry says companies like Sony and Google want the freedom to repackage cable programming into their own services and devices — but don’t want to allow traditional MVPDs the same rights to incorporate content they’ve negotiated for themselves.

I’d wager that Sony would quickly change its tune if it were suddenly required to open up Qriocity to all comers, whether that’s Roku, Boxee, Panasonic or Comcast.

If the shoe were on the other foot, I bet we’d hear Sony talk about how costly, impractical and unnecessary the regulations are — rather than how AllVid will somehow supposedly foster innovation and competition.

Here are links to previous Multichannel News coverage of the AllVid issue:

* NCTA: AllVid Should Not Mean Unbundling

* Cable Networks to FCC: AllVid Is AllBad

* FCC’s AllVid: Obsolete on Day One

* FCC AllVid Rule Would ‘Ban The Set-Top As We Know It’: Analyst

FCC’s ‘AllVid’ Gateway Would Require Six IP Video Streams

AT&T U-verse TV Would Not Meet FCC’s AllVid Gateway Requirement

* FCC Opens Gateway Proceeding

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