NAB to FCC: Localism Must Be Baked into OVD Item

The National Association of Broadcasters says that, to read the FCC's proposal to define some over-the-top providers as MVPDS, "it’s as if the Commission no longer views localism as one of its key policy objectives." It also says it wants the FCC to give broadcasters the ability not to negotiate retrans with an OVD if it cannot demonstrate it can protect that content from pirates.

That came in formal comments on that proposal. NAB says it agrees with the FCC that linear OVDs defined as MVPDs should be subject to retransmission consent/must carry rules, but challenges its silence on how the network nonduplication and syndicated exclusivity rules would apply, which it says is essential to the concept of localism."

The FCC has signaled the main reason for the definitional change is to make sure those programmers have sufficient access to programming to become true competitors to traditional cable and satellite service, but NAB says responsibilities must go along with those rights.

NAB is concerned about not extending geographic signal limits to online TV station signal distribution. "The Commission must ensure that its expansion of the definition of MVPD does not inadvertently erode the ability of broadcasters to serve their local communities," NAB said.

That means that the FCC needs to insure there is a mechanism for insuring TV station signals online "are secured from potential piracy, are accessed by OVD subscribers within the broadcaster’s geographic market, and are not materially degraded." Broadcasters also want notification when an OVD is defined as an MVPD so they know with whom they need to negotiate.

NAB suggests that the FCC adopt a carry-one, carry all model for OVDs, meaning that if an OVD negotiates for carriage with any station in a market, it must negotiate in good faith with all of the stations in that market.

NAB says that given concerns over the safety and security of content on the Internet, the FCC should find that it is not a per se violation of the responsibility to negotiate retrans in good faith that a station decline to negotiate if an OVD can't or won't demonstrate it has the technical ability to protect the TV station signal from piracy or forms of "misappropriation."

NAB wants the same per se violation carve out for refusing to negotiate with an OVD that cannot demonstrate it will not materially degrade the TV station signal.

To check out NAB's other asks, go here.

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.