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FCC's Wheeler: MVPD Redefinition Still on 'Pause'

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler signaled Thursday that the FCC's consideration of redefining some online video providers as MVPDs was still on "pause."

He pointed out that the notice of proposed rulemaking the FCC issued proposing the redefinition was intended to gather information that had not been available "on the other side of the NPRM." He said that info "gave us pause to hit pause," adding that "there are so many innovative things going on right now in the video space and we want to let it continue to innovate."

He said there will be several things coming out dealing with video issues, saying not the least of which was Congress asking it to look at retrans negotiations, which he said would be an opportunity to address other issues "writ large."

Still, he ended that by saying he did not know if the MVPD issues would get "rolled up into that" or not.

He signaled to Congress in an oversight hearing last month that no action was imminent on his proposal, which has gotten pushback from some major edge players. Wheeler had initially proposed a vote by the fall.

Cable operators have been pushing back all along, arguing that the facilities-based definition of multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) was the correct one. But, then again, those companies argued that classifying broadband Internet access as a Title II common carrier service would be disastrous, and Wheeler was not dissuaded.

But the chairman could also be having a hard time rustling up votes, given the pushback from some major players.

The FCC would be regulating over-the-top video services, potentially making them subject to must-carry rules and possibly public, educational and government (PEG) channel carriage requirements. That is a precedent that does not sit well with some of those online content providers, like the members of the Digital Media Association, which include Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and YouTube.