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Multi Channel Video Distributor (a.k.a. Cable TV)

Marc Sanchez May 23, 2012

The Federal Communications Commission  is taking public comment on whether it should treat streaming services like Hulu and YouTube more like traditional cable companies, which it calls Multi Channel Video Distributors.

The New York Times reports:

the commission is asking whether the rules of multichannel distributors — like the right to carry certain popular channels and the responsibility to carry some less popular ones — should apply to new online distributors like Hulu and YouTube. If it decides that they should, then more companies could stream TV shows to computers and smartphones, hastening an industrywide shift to the Internet.

The mere mention of adding streaming services to the list of MCVDs sends shivers up the spines of cable TV companies like Comcast and Time Warner. Essentially, if the change were to be implemented, that could be the golden egg the cord-cutting, TV viewing public has been waiting for, because it would give Internet companies the go-ahead to bundle their own packaged sets of channels.  

This issue has been brewing for a while. Again from the Times:

This notion was tested a few years ago when a Christian media company called Sky Angel tried to add Mr. Zaslav’s Discovery Channel to the lineup of family-friendly channels that it sells over the Internet. Discovery did not want to sell, but if Sky Angel were legally deemed a multichannel distributor, it would have had to, under current rules.

The broadcasters who actually make shows must be enjoying this battle. If the rules stay the same, they get paid. And they stand to make even more money, if the rules change, because then they can start charging re-broadcasting fees to the Internet companies.

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