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Cable Operators to FCC:OVDs Are Not MVPDs

Washington — In the FCC’s endeavor to define a
multichannel video programming distributor, much
depends on the definition of a channel, according the
cable industry.

Cable operators told the Federal Communications
Commission again
that it should define
MVPD as the
combinat ion of
multiple video programming
and the transmission
path. In this
view, legacy regulations
like program
access and
carriage and exclusivity
would not
apply to online video

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association
made that point clear in its initial comments to the
FCC on May 14, and nothing in the ensuing comment period
has changed its mind. The NCTA’s response is to the
FCC’s request for comment on the definitions of MVPDs
and online video distributors (OVDs) as they related to a
program-access complaint fi led by over-the-top provider
Sky Angel against Discovery Communications.

What the FCC decides could have far-reaching implications
for how new entrants into the video ecosystem
are handled by MSOs, and for what rights they have.

In the comments, the NCTA said the definition of
MVPD depends on the definition of channel, and
Congress was clear about its definition of channel.
In the Communications Act, it defines a channel as
“a portion of the electromagnetic frequency spectrum
which is used in a cable system and which is capable
of delivering a television channel (as television channel
is defined by the Commission by regulation).”

The cable trade group says Congress’ definition in the
statute “makes clear that a ‘channel’ of video programming
is not the programming itself but the physical
transmission path used to deliver that programming.”

To define it otherwise, they say, would result in “expansive
regulation of the Internet” and conferring rights
and obligations on online entities the FCC does not track
or license, that may not have physical facilities in the
U.S. and that “were never intended to be the subjects
of such regulations.”

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.