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FCC's Simington: Content Delivery Power Has Shifted to Streaming

Speaking to an audience of Ohio broadcasters facing major video competition streaming sites, FCC commissioner Nathan Simington said Tuesday (Dec. 7) that the content delivery power had shifted away from broadcasters--stations and networks--and from MVPDs, and toward "online platforms," something he said the FCC needs to recognize in its quadrennial review of media ownership regs.

In remarks to the Ohio Association of Broadcasters annual meeting, Simington said he was "not necessarily" calling for regulation of Big Tech, but he did say the FCC needs to take into account two major facts: 1) "Online media platforms are growing rapidly and threaten dominance over traditional media platforms"; and 2) "broadcast advertising revenue has flatlined, having been siphoned off from higher margin online platforms."  

Simington said that impact has been particularly felt by smaller broadcasters. "[I]s there a single online video platform that is a mom-and-pop operation? Of course not! Every single one is either backed by a massive tech platform, deep-pocketed venture capitalists, or a major network. If not, it's out of business in a year. There is no such thing as a ‘small’ online video platform. Not really."

Given that, he said, this was no time to put new regulations on broadcast ownership--as a Democratic FCC majority could well do. "You are all already burdened by a raft of regulations designed for a bygone era while your insurgent online competitors have functionally none of the same constraints," he said, adding that this was not the time to further "turn the screw."

Online video platforms will continue to grow, he said, grabbing more ad and subscription dollars and broadcasters advertising will continue to get squeezed, something the FCC has to reckon with in its quadrennial review, or that review will have failed. 

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