The Federal Register Thursday published the FCC's proposal to define some linear over-the-top video distributors as MVPD's for the purpose of nondiscriminatory access to programming (https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/01/15/2014-30777/promoting...), which triggers the official comment cycle, with initial comments due Feb. 17 and reply comments due March 2.
There were actually already a trio of comments in the docket at press time, one from a serial filer who has flooded the FCC with filings in multiple dockets, one from an individual and one from a company concerned about the impact of potential new obligations on white spaces devices for rural broadband.
Back in December, the FCC voted to "modernize our interpretation of the term “multichannel video programming distributor” (“MVPD”) by including within its scope services that make available for purchase, by subscribers or customers, multiple linear streams of video programming, regardless of the technology used to distribute the programming."
As B&C/Multichannel News first reported, the item proposes to give linear OVD's nondiscriminatory access 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 previous definition of MVPD required it to control the distribution facilities as well as aggregate the programming.
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 Dec. 19 that the item had been voted.
Hedging its bets, the NPRM asks about maintaining the facilities-based requirement, even as it proposes to do away with it. It also asks how to apply retransmission consent good faith negotiations to over-the-top providers and what impact a reclassification would have on IP-delivered services over cable and satellite.