Great news: FCC wants to force Netflix to be more like cable

Great news: FCC wants to force Netflix to be more like cable

[A] wave of change is engulfing the market: Internet-based TV. Often called over-the-top (OTT) video, such service is provided over your Internet service rather than through your cable connection or satellite feed. And with the Internet as their platform, OTT viewers enjoy a virtually limitless number of programming options. …

This is a free-market success story. Yet the Federal Communications Commission, under the leadership of Chairman Tom Wheeler, decided last December that some rules from Washington would make things even better.

Specifically, the FCC proposed to redefine OTT providers that offered regularly scheduled programming as “multichannel video program distributors” (MVPDs), putting them in the same regulatory category as cable TV and satellite television services. This would have triggered a number of obligations on OTTs, including mandatory closed captioning, restrictions on the loudness of commercials and requirements that set-top boxes be offered for sale in retail stores.

However, there was also a carrot offered to Internet TV services: As MVPDs, they could force existing broadcast TV stations to negotiate agreements to retransmit their programming. Wheeler thinks this shift is needed to assist OTTs that have been having difficulty acquiring the programming content they wanted.

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