FCC Tees Up Inquiry Into Independent Video Access

Turns out FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn knew what she was talking about when she signaled an upcoming inquiry into access to distribution platforms.

She signaled at an FCC commissioners panel at the Multicultural Media, Telecom & Internet Council's annual Broadband and Social Justice Summit in Washington last week that the FCC would soon launch a notice of inquiry (NOI) on access to over-the-top distribution channels by independent programmers.

On Thursday, the FCC released the tentative agenda for its Feb. 18 public meeting, which had already drawn attention for the planned vote on a new set-top-box proposal. In addition to that item, the agenda including the inquiry Clyburn said was coming, listing the following:

"Promoting Diverse and Independent Programming: The Commission will consider a Notice of Inquiry that seeks comment on the current state of programming diversity and the principal obstacles that independent programmers face in obtaining carriage on video distribution platforms."

At the MMTC panel, Clyburn had said there was a lot of promise and optimism in OTT on the surface, but from those she has talked to, there remained “the same old legacy issues” about getting projects greenlighted and access to distribution channels. She said she did not know whether it was an issue the FCC could solve, but it would be a platform for discussion and put attention on the issue.

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.