FCC Officially Launches OVD Definition NPRM

Asks Questions, Like How Decision Dovetails with Copyright Office

The FCC has launched its rulemaking to define some online video providers (OVDs) as MVPDS, at least with respect to access to cable and TV station programming.

The item was voted two days ago, but not announced until Friday. It was unanimous, but with concurrences from Republican commissioners with concerns.

As B&C/Multichannel News has reported, the item proposes to allow linear OVD's to cable-affiliated programming and local TV station broadcasts, regardless of whether or not they have facilities based distribution. Beyond that, it tees up lots of questions about how to apply that definition and the ramifications of doing so.

The idea is to help promote online video as a competitor to traditional cable and satellite providers, which the FCC says should produce more choices for programming, by making the MVPD definition technology neutral. "Video is no longer tied to a certain transmission technology, so our interpretation of MVPD should not be tied to transmission facilities," FCC Chairman Tom wheeler said in announcing the item had been voted.

“While we do not believe that the Notice's tentative conclusion can be squared with the plain language of the definition for a multichannel video distribution provider, we appreciate the efforts of Commissioners to identify many of the difficult policy issues that such a conclusion would raise," said the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. "We look forward to participating in this proceeding to ensure that any rules deemed necessary in today’s competitive video distribution marketplace are fairly applied to all.”

NCTA has told the FCC that a facilities-based transmission path, is part and parcel of MVPD status, rights and obligations

Read more at B&C here