NAB wants Internet providers to abide by same carriage/retrans rules as cable and satellite operators

The FCC asked for comments on the definition of just what constitutes a multichannel video program distributor ( MVPD). The NAB, with a big stake in the question, provided an answer that, not surprisingly, favors broadcasters.

In an answer to the FCC, the NAB said Internet-delivered services should be subject to the same carriage and retransmission obligations and local station exclusivity and network nonduplication rules as traditional MVPDs.

The NAB told the FCC that Internet providers should not be able to “expropriate broadcast signals at will.

“Broadcasters must continue to have the right to control the distribution of their signals over the Internet and to obtain compensation from broadband video service providers seeking to retransmit such signals,” the NAB said.

“With these rights in hand, local stations will be able to continue making the substantial investments needed to offer high-quality, costly programming, including news, and to enhance their HD, multicast, and other current and future service offerings. In the end, it is consumers that will benefit by receiving a greater variety of programming, including local programming, from broadcast stations via a broadband service provider.”

The NAB said “if new technologies can evade retransmission consent and erode local viewership by overriding program exclusivity rights of local stations and offering the same programs on stations imported from other markets, the viability of local TV stations, and their ability to serve their local communities with high quality programming—could well be lost. This clearly was not Congress’ intent as it stated in adopting the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992.”

Under the 1992 Act, Congress defined MVPD’s as cable or satellite operators. But they left open the definition to be modified to include others by the FCC. The FCC is debating the question now.

At stake for broadcasters is whether or not Internet providers are allowed to redistribute their signals without permission or compensation.