Proposed FCC Rule Change Potential Big Step for Internet TV

The FCC is considering a change to federal regulations that could potentially put Internet TV providers on the same level as traditional cable TV companies. If the change were implemented, Internet TV providers would reportedly have the same ability as today’s cable and satellite companies to negotiate for carrying broadcast TV stations. The change could therefore help emerging multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD) to license the content necessary to become serious contenders.

videostream“In fact, the FCC is actually just considering extending rules to cover Internet TV providers that Congress once put in place to help the emergence of satellite companies — rules that, as you may have gathered, were successful in producing their desired goal,” reports The Verge.

A rule change could be good news for companies that have considered Internet TV products, but have been hampered by content issues. As The Verge points out in a related article, “Apple could set up an Internet TV service and get all the channels it needs to actually replace your cable box — not just a handful of streaming deals like it has now, but a full-on TV package.”

Microsoft could integrate live TV into the next Xbox One, and Google could finally deliver on its promise of Google TV.

FCC chair Tom Wheeler believes there should be no difference between cable, satellite, and Internet TV providers that are offering the same service.

“The definition of an MVPD should turn on the services that a provider offers, not on how those services reach viewers,” Wheeler wrote in a blog post yesterday. “Twenty-first century consumers shouldn’t be shackled to rules that only recognize 20th century technology.”

“Because the rule change should lead to the presence of more TV providers, Wheeler also believes that it might finally prompt companies to offer channels à la carte — the dream of everyone paying way too much for way too many TV channels,” notes The Verge. “That’s by far a less certain result of this proposed rule change, but it is more than fair to assume that we’d see increased competition as more companies enter the business.”

U.S. Regulators to Vote on Treating Internet TV Like Cable, Reuters, 10/28/14
Aereo Sees Path Forward in FCC Online Video Proposal, Bloomberg, 10/29/14