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Proposed FCC rule change would open new avenues of online video content

Multiple sources report the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may alter its rules to effectively redefine online video providers (OVD) delivering linear streaming programming as multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD), a rule change that would open new avenues of programming via retransmission of broadcasts.

Currently, MVPD refers to service providers delivering video programming services, normally for subscription fee, including cable television systems, direct-broadcast satellite providers, wireline video providers, such as Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse, and competitive local exchange carriers using IPTV. Inclusion as a MVPD would provide FCC-enforced access to vertically integrated programs, programs created by entities owning or controlling both programming/production and distribution services, for example, Discovery Channel. The rule change would not affect on demand services such as Hulu or Netflix but, would apply to services such as Aereo. Under the rule change, services like Aereo would have FCC-protected access to purchase broadcast stations retransmissions.

FCC Chairperson Tom Wheeler called reports of a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on the matter "a bit of an overstatement,” in a Washington press conference earlier this week. “We consider a whole heck of a lot of ideas around here. This falls into that category.” Other FCC employees have confirmed the existence of the NPRM to news media, speaking on condition of anonymity. The item does not appear on the tentative agenda for the FCC open meeting in Washington, D.C. on October 17, 2014.

It's not surprising the proposed change comes during the Wheeler administration. Before his FCC chairperson nomination from President Barrack Obama, he had a book in the works titled “From Gutenberg to Google: The History of Our Future,” which examines the history of network revolutions. Publication is pending while Wheeler serves in his FCC position. (References: Bloombanonymityerg, FCC, Multichannel News, Variety)

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