Studios, Unions Share Set-Top Concerns

Some major content creators, unions and associations are joining together to give the FCC an earful of their concerns with chairman Tom Wheeler's set-top box "unlocking" proposal.

According to the Motion Picture Association of America, the major studios, joined by the Independent Film & Television Alliance, recording industry associations, creative unions—SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and the Directors Guild—and others said they would be filing joint comments Friday but signaled in advance they were not happy and were letting the FCC know it. Those concerns include the lack of guarantees of copyright protections and its potential harmful impact on content creators.

April 22 is the deadline for initial comments on the FCC proposal to require cable operators to make cable set-top data and programming streams available to third party navigation device makers and app developers, which can then wed that programming with over-the-top video offerings.

Content creators are concerned that the proposal will allow those third parties to scrape data, repackage channels and monetize both without notice or compensation to content creators or distributors.

"The only change the FCC is proposing is to allow consumers alternative means of accessing the content they pay for," said FCC press secretary Kim Hart. "If a consumer chooses to access the content they subscribe to via a different device or app than the one provided by their MVPD, the MVPD still receives the subscription fee and content owners still receive the licensing fees they negotiated with the MVPD."

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.