Wheeler: ‘Old’ Rules Shouldn’t Impede Services Like Aereo

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has signaled that the FCC's proposed redefinition of over-the-top video providers as MVPDs could indeed help Aereo, or a service like it.

In a speech to the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association Tuesday (Nov. 4), Wheeler also kept the fire going under Title II, likening a hybrid approach to a two-pronged defense of an Open Internet.

"Two weeks ago I proposed to my colleagues that we require of cable operators and broadcasters the same thing that spurred the growth of the satellite video business in the mid-1990s – that competitors should be able to negotiate in good faith for video content, even if it is owned by cable companies and broadcasters," Wheeler said.

"By facilitating access to such content, we expect Internet-based linear programming services to develop as a competitor to cable and satellite," he said. "Consumers will be able to buy the channels they want instead of having to pay for channels they don’t want."

Then he invoked Aereo, which attempted to deliver TV station signals without paying for the content, until broadcasters sued and the Supreme Court sided with broadcasters.

"As you know, a startup called Aereo has already proposed doing this [being an over-the-top video competitor], but the broadcasters were able to stop it in court, in part because of the old rules of the FCC. Aereo wasn’t the reason for the new rules, but the idea that entrepreneurs should be able to assemble programs to offer consumers choices is something that shouldn’t be hindered by the FCC."

Read the full story at B&C.

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.