Politico: NAB Expected to Formally Ask for New Streaming Rules

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(Image credit: FCC)

The National Association of Broadcasters is planning to ask the FCC to adopt new regulations that would recognize changes in the television marketplace and force streaming services to be regulated more in line with existing rules for broadcasters. 

In a Politico article, NAB President Curtis LeGeyt said that the effort to re-open rules that had been proposed during the Obama administration was discussed during a recent private board meeting. Such changes would be more inline with “changes in the marketplace” LeGeyt told Politico. It would also reflect comments NAB made to the commission earlier this year in an ex parte filing, which, while it dealt mainly with radio ownership issues, also touched upon reforms to existing rules that would include streaming companies. 

"While this submission primarily responds to invalid claims made by those opposing reform of the local radio rule, NAB’s legal and economic analyses also refute arguments against ownership rule reform more generally, including for local TV broadcasters," NAB said at the time.

Top of mind is retrans: broadcasters want the commission to look into expanding broadcasters’ ability to negotiate contracts beyond traditional cable and satellite pay-TV providers to services that carry broadcasters’ local channels, so-called “virtual multichannel video program distributors” (vMVPVDs) like YoutubeTV, Hulu and SlingTV.  

The move doesn’t come without opposition, however from within NAB, where the networks have differed with the association’s decision to pursue updated rules and the local stations, who are pushing to extend retrans rules to apply to streaming platforms. 

LeGeyt acknowledged this reality, telling Politico, “NAB membership is a large tent, and it is not uncommon for there to be differences of views among our companies. Like any member-driven organization, we move forward when a critical mass of our membership is in agreement, and even in those instances we strive for advocacy that maintains unity for the good of the broadcast industry and the tens of millions of Americans who rely on our service every day.”

The American Television Association, a critic of the NAB, especially over retrans battles that often result in broadcast stations pulling their signals, responded to the Politico article, saying the FCC should pay more attention to updating rules and protecting consumers from rising costs. 

“The broadcast industry wants to take the current framework, which is already responsible for thousands of consumer blackouts and massive annual price increases, and expand it to streaming,” stated ATVA spokesperson, Jessica Kendust. “The FCC should focus on modernizing and fixing the broken system, not imposing new costs on streaming customers.”

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.