FCC Outlines Video Competition Workshop

The FCC has outlined plans for the first of two workshops as part of its inquiry into the state of competition and program diversity in the video marketplace, and it is heavy on economists, analysts and academics rather than programmers or distributors.

The all-day event will be held March 21 and include opening remarks by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler.

The event comprises three panels.

The first is Evolution of the Video Marketplace and the Future of Television. Panelists are Richard Greenfield, managing director and media analyst, BTIG; Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst, Leichtman Research Group; Eli Noam, professor of finance and economics, Columbia University; Marci Ryvicker, managing director, Wells Fargo Securities.

The second panel, Challenges Faced By Multichannel Video Programming Distributors, features Tasneem Chipty, managing principal, Analysis Group; Todd Juenger, VP, senior analyst, US Media, Sanford C. Bernstein; Dan Vincent, professor, department of economics; University of Maryland; and Ali Yurukoglu, associate professor, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University.

The third panel is Challenges Faced by Online Video Distributors. Panelists are Mark Fratrik, senior VP, BIA/Kelsey; Jeffrey Prince, associate professor of business economics and public policy, Indiana University; and Alejandro Zentner, associate professor of managerial economics, University of Texas-Dallas.

The FCC voted Feb. 18 to launch the inquiry into the current state of programming diversity and the principal obstacles that independent and diverse programmers face in obtaining carriage on video distribution platforms, including, potentially, contractual issues, program bundling and access to over-the-top platforms.

That launch of a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) came at the FCC's public meeting Thursday (Feb. 18). The vote was unanimous, but with some reservations.

In outlining the inquiry, Media Bureau chief Bill Lake called it a fact-finding enterprise on program diversity and possible ways to address complaints that cable operators and other multichannel video-programming distributors (MVPDs) might be stifling competition.

The FCC is inviting comment on the state of the marketplace and the challenges to entry. It’s also seeking comment on most favored nation and alternative distribution method provisions in contracts, which independent networks have said can hinder their access. It is also seeking comments on OTT distribution, program bundling, and issues affecting public, education and government (PEG) channels.

The FCC is also seeking comment on its legal authority to address any hindrances to distribution.

FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn had sought the inquiry.

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.