– Joe Rosenbaum
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), under its new Chairman Ajit Pai, removed from its list of items for consideration, a proposal originally put forth by prior Chairman Tom Wheeler that would have allowed consumers to access pay-TV content on third-party devices. Previous Chairman Wheeler’s original proposal took an “apps” based approach, but also included a licensing scheme that would require implementation of a standardized license for placing apps on such platforms or devices.
Critics, however, noted this particular proposal would actually have the opposite effect and more restrictively limit the choices available to consumers. The original proposal also put the FCC in the position of acting as supervisory authority in order to ensure, in each case, that such a license wouldn’t harm competition. Critics immediately raised concerns over the need for such intrusion by the FCC at all (some raised questions regarding the authority of the FCC to require or supervise such a licensing scheme), with many preferring to simply get rid of restrictions and limitations on access devices altogether.
While the FCC has removed the proposal from its list of items being considered for a vote, it remains on the Commission’s circulation list. Thus, the FCC’s action removes the proposal from immediate consideration, but doesn’t close the file officially – something over which industry groups remain concerned. Their concerns continue to relate to the uncertainty of having a proposal still open for consideration, which, if resurrected, could pose problems for many in the industry, including distributors and content creators whose existing contracts might be in violation of such a new FCC requirement or policy. Stay tuned.