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FCC Extends Comments Deadline on MPAA Filing

The Federal Communications Commission gave everybody more time to weigh in on the Motion Picture Association of America's request for an FCC waiver that would allow it to restrict the copying of some HD movies by digital-video recorders.

Comments had been due this week (June 25) and reply comments July 7, but citing requests from the National Association of Theater Owners for more time due to the complexity of the issues involved, the FCC extended the deadlines to July 21 and 31, respectively.

The MPAA filed a formal request with the FCC June 6 for a waiver of FCC rules governing the "selectable output controls" of set-top boxes so that they can selectively prevent the digital copying of HD versions of films they want to distribute via multichannel-video providers before their DVD releases.

The MPAA said the waiver will benefit the public by giving them more viewing choices more expeditiously and will help the digital-TV transition by boosting interest in HDTV sets.

Theater owners are concerned that the studios are shortening their distribution windows and migrating their movies to other distribution platforms -- like cable and satellite -- that they can more easily control.