ACA: FCC Should Preserve Distinction Between OVD and MVPD

The American Cable Association told the FCC Monday that "pure play" online video distributors (OVDs) should not be classified as multichannel video programming distributors, saying that was in line with the intent, language and structure of the law and longstanding precedent.

In comments filed in the FCC's Sky Angel program access complaint review, ACA said that the FCC's Media Bureau had it right when it tentatively concluded that MVPD meant an entity that controlled distribution facilities and delivered multiple channels to subscribers.

"In contrast, the alternative interpretation of the terms 'channel' and 'MVPD' suggested in the Public Notice (‘PN'), that an entity would be considered an MVPD if it makes available for purchase multiple 'video programming networks' without regard to whether it offers a transmission path, fails on all counts," ACA says.

The Media Bureau, which is reviewing the Sky Angel complaint, sought comment on how it should define MVPD given the implications of concluding it now covered online video distributors. ACA says that the bureau should stick with the traditional definition, and if it doesn't, has to kick the decision upstairs to the full commission for a full review and, ultimately, a decision by Congress if it wants to change the law.

ACA points out that while the FCC has applied the MVPD definition to those using video dial tone and satellite master antenna delivery, it has not applied it to programmers who simply leased capacity on cable operator's facilities.

ACA cites Congress' definition of channel "as a portion of the electromagnetic frequency spectrum" in the Cable Act of 1992. But it also looks to more recent congressional intent.

ACA points out that when Congress passed the Twenty-First Century Video Accessibility Act in 2010, it drew a distinction between TV content covered by existing captioning rules and that of online video distributors.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.