FCC Proposal to Regulate "Over the Top" Video Providers

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) proposing to classify over-the-top (“OTT”) video programming providers as "Multi-Channel Video Programming Distributors" ("MVPDs") - if they deliver "linear" programming. The FCC proposes that it will facilitate the availability of cable and broadcast television programming to OTT providers and enhance consumer choice and competition in the video market. The classification would require OTT providers to carry certain programming and to comply with other regulations currently imposed on MVPDs like cable providers. The proposal would also give OTT video providers certain legacy negotiating and carriage rights with respect to both cable and broadcast programming. DiMA has submitted comments to the FCC, in the hopes of helping the FCC understand the space in its efforts to establish rules. DiMA's comments suggest that the area of Over the Top Video distribution is one that seems to require little regulation, at this point. If the FCC does decide that certain OTT providers are or should be classified as MVPDs, individual OTT providers should be able to elect to be classified as an MVPD or not, after considering the benefits and burdens of being classified as an MVPD.