The FCC might be a slow-moving agency, like any in Government, but they’re oddly in-tune with what consumers want (most of the time). A new proposal by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler would give many TV addicts exactly what they want, giving Internet TV providers the same footing as legacy Cable TV providers. If passed, the new rules would make it impossible for a broadcaster to refuse to allow an Internet TV provider the right to carry their service specifically because they weren’t a cable provider.
That would give Internet TV providers the ability to negotiate for TV stations, just like Satellite providers can. Called Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPD), those Internet TV providers would be governed under the same rules as cable or satellite providers.
“The definition of an MVPD should turn on the services that a provider offers, not on how those services reach viewers. Twenty-first century consumers shouldn’t be shackled to rules that only recognize 20th century technology” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in a blog post today.
He cites the changing landscape of TV itself, as cable TV moves from analog to digital signals. In an odd end-around, cable companies are relying more on IP-based delivery of your programs, making them much more like Internet TV providers than traditional cable providers.
In that vein, Wheeler is right. How can the FCC govern two companies — who want to utilize the same technology to deliver the same content — differently from one another?
The proposed rule change is just that right now; a proposal. Still, it’s meaningful, and could signal the end to this stodgy TV system we find ourselves in day-to-day. Just when you thought Aereo was down and out, a rule change might actually save them.