The National Cable & Telecommunications Association is warning the FCC that Sony, Google and consumer electronics companies are trying to deconstruct its programming service in violation of copyright, trademark, contract, licensing and other rights.
That came in a response Wednesday to a proposal as part of the FCC's AllVid inquiry into creating a universal set-top device to unite traditional and online video delivery to the TV set.
Late last month, the computer companies asked the commission to adopt a technical standard for the device that, as NCTA sees it, "would require MVPDs to disassemble the programming, data, and program guide metadata used to create and provide each MVPD's service, so that each consumer electronics ("CE") manufacturer may remake them into a service of its own design."
Google, Sony and others instead billed it as an "IP-based interface that serves the needs of consumers and the requirements for innovation and competition, without compromising the legitimate expectations of content distributors and providers."
However you describe it, NCTA argues that such a regime would turn its members into program wholesalers of content in all windows for all devices on every platform.
Not only would that violate contracts and licenses, it argues, but would actually be a disincentive to the kind of flexibility and innovation programmers are already offering. Such deconstruction, NCTA argues, would reach into every face of its business, from channel placement, to advertising to branding to marketing and customer retention.
And while MVPDs would have to "open their storerooms," they would not have a similar right to incorporate content from other types of video distributors into their services, "thereby locking traditional MVPDs out of a potential new video marketplace."
NCTA has long argued that the FCC should not be issuing technology mandates for set-tops or unbundling cable nets at the set top, that the marketplace is already moving content to a variety of platforms, with MVPD's help, and that giving industry room to innovate is the way to go.
The commission has billed its AllVid proposal as a way to spur broadband adoption by using TV's to access the Internet since there are sets in 99% of homes, but computers in only 75%-80%. It has also long tried to create a competitive retail market for set-top boxes, which NCTA argues is already "well under way."
For their part, Google and company argued that their proposal would not "diminish or denigrate" the rights of MVPD's, saying that those MVPD channel lineups would continue to be one of the options available.
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