Disney, CBS, others tell FCC to stay out of the licensing process

FCC headquarters

Top programming conglomerates including CBS Corp, Disney, 21st Century Fox and Time Warner Inc. jointly filed an ex parte letter to the FCC, indicating their strong, unambiguous disagreement with the revised set-top regulation proposal being championed by agency Chairman Tom Wheeler. 

"While we continue to appreciate that the FCC has shifted its focus to apps, we cannot support any rules that require our content to be distributed on terms or conditions to which programmers would not agree,” said the media companies in the letter, which was filed after a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the new proposal Thursday.

“That is true whether the Commission’s exercise of oversight relates to a license permitting a device manufacturer to distribute content via apps, or whether such oversight relates to the private commercial agreements that programmers enter into with multichannel video programming distributors,” the letter added. 

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The dissonance among programmers originates from the same part of the proposal that has irked pay-TV operators — the mandate that the FCC act as a licensing body for operator apps. 

“In order to ensure that there is no confusion about our position, the content companies once again urge the commission not to adopt any proposal that includes any FCC involvement in the licensing process or that grants the FCC any ability to establish the terms and conditions of a license related to the distribution of content,” the media companies said. 

The ex parte came after FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel told the Senate committee that she has misgivings about the FCC’s role in the proposal, as well. Wheeler told the Senators he was open to once again altering his proposal.

Wheeler did, however, get support from the New York Times Editorial Board, which ran an op-ed titles “Free TV Viewers From Cable Box Fees” in Thursday’s edition. 

For more:
- read this ex parte letter
- read this New York Times op-ed

Related articles:
Wheeler puts pay-TV back on defense with revised set-top proposal
FCC’s Rosenworcel says new set-top proposal ‘has problems,’ Wheeler said changes will be made
Rosenworcel wary of angering content community with set-top vote, analyst says

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