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- In a blog post earlier this week, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler opened the door for a la carte Internet video services by teeing up a rulemaking process on the matter. The post was met with caution from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association who, in a statement, said: “In today’s video marketplace, consumers are reaping the benefits of robust competition and an ever expanding menu of video options….the FCC should take great care in any such examination so as to avoid creating new problems that would result in unintended consequences and would fail to honor principles of competitive neutrality among rival providers.”

Here are excerpts from the Wheeler blog posting:

-“Consumers have long complained about how their cable service forces them to buy channels they never watch.  The move of video onto the Internet can do something about that frustration – but first Internet video services need access to the programs.  Today the FCC takes the first step to open access to cable programs as well as local television.  The result should be to give consumers more alternatives from which to choose so they can buy the programs they want. 

In 1992 Congress realized that the then-nascent satellite industry would have a hard time competing because much cable programming was owned by cable companies who frequently kept it from competitors.  Congress mandated access to cable channels for satellite services, and competition flourished.  Today I am proposing to extend the same concept to the providers of linear, Internet-based services; to encourage new video alternatives by opening up access to content previously locked on cable channels.  What could these over-the-top video providers (OTTs) supply to consumers?  Many different kinds of multichannel video packages designed for different tastes and preferences.  A better ability for a consumer to order the channels he or she wants to watch.

The mantra “Competition, Competition, Competition” fits perfectly with consumers’ desires for video choices.  That’s why I’m asking my fellow Commissioners to update video competition rules so our rules won’t act as a barrier to this kind of innovation.  Specifically, I am asking the Commission to start a rulemaking proceeding in which we would modernize our interpretation of the term “multichannel video programming distributor” (MVPD) so that it is technology-neutral.  The result of this technical adjustment will be to give MVPDs that use the Internet (or any other method of transmission) the same access to programming owned by cable operators and the same ability to negotiate to carry broadcast TV stations that Congress gave to satellite systems in order to ensure competitive video markets.

A key component of rules that spur competition is assuring the FCC’s rules are technology-neutral.  That’s why the definition of an MVPD should turn on the services that a provider offers, not on how those services reach viewers.  Twenty-first century consumers shouldn’t be shackled to rules that only recognize 20th century technology.

We have passed from an era where it was necessary to build a purpose-specific pathway to deliver video.  The innovation of Internet Protocol (IP) has freed video from these closed pathways and single-purpose devices.  The proposal put forth today will update FCC rules to recognize this new reality and, as a result, expand competition and consumer choice.”

The above is a quote from the October 31, 2014, issue of the PTA Friday Report. To view the full issue, please log into the Active Members Only Section of this site (telcos only) or contact to be added to the distribution list (members only)



2014 Meetings
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PTA Small Company Meeting
State College, Pa

2015 Meetings

PTA Small Company Meeting
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APRIL 29 & 30
State College, Pa

PTA Small Company Meeting
State College, Pa

JULY 13-15
Hershey, Pa

PTA Small Company Meeting
State College, Pa

PTA Small Company Meeting
State College, Pa


Pennsylvania Telephone Association
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