Indies Want Video Distribution Parity On Specialized Services

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Independent producers told the Federal Communications Commission Tuesday that it should apply network neutrality rules, or a reasonable facsimile, to specialized services, arguing that there is no "signficant evidence" that to do so would deter innovation or investment.

Instead, they said, the FCC would be preserving incentives to invest in both Internet and competitive private offerings. The Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA), in comments to the commission Tuesday, said that those principles must also be applied to wireless broadband.

"[R]egulations must be developed to ensure that specialized services do not supplant the network capacity and resources for broadband Internet access," said IFTA. "Essentially, such regulations must provide all of the safeguards embodied in the open Internet principles sought to be applied to broadband Internet access, with narrowly tailored exceptions." IFTA wants the FCC to require ISPs to meet a minimum level of bandwidth allocation to general Internet broadband, to prevent them from favoring specialized services. That would include guaranteed bandwidth and performance parity between video subscription services on the public Internet and via private specialized services.

Producers also want a guarantee that offerings on non-vertically integrated specialized services must get the same terms and conditions as vertically integrated ones. The producers are afraid that ISPS with co-owned content libraries to offer on IPTV or VOD specialized services could squeeze out independents via exclusive deals.

IFTA said that if the FCC does not apply the same regs to specialized services, it should provide separate reg that assure the same safeguards, which sounded on first reading like a distinction with little difference.

Producers said that the FCC, not Congress, was in the best position "to lay out a balanced framework for an open Internet," given the failure of a congressional attempt at a compromise bill.

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