Rosenworcel wary of angering content community with set-top vote, analyst says

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel (third from left)

While assumption exists among some pundits that Jessica Rosenworcel’s swing vote was secured by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler when he put forth his revised plan on set-top regulation last week, not everyone believes the Democratic agency Commissioner’s vote is locked up.

“We retain our current view that Rosenworcel is unlikely to vote in a way that would anger the content community and thus, we see the current proposal as having to be modified to move forward,” said New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin, in a note to investors Wednesday. 

Rosenworcel, Wheeler and the three other FCC Commissioners are set to vote on the new proposal on Sept. 29. Roscenworcel’s pullback from Wheeler's original set-top NPRM, proposed in February, deprived it of a deciding vote and forced Wheeler to rethink his plan, re-creating it based on a multi-screen app solution put forth by the pay-TV industry. 

Wheeler, Chaplin said, “took some key elements of cable’s framework and last week amended his own ideas to offer a new, apps-based approach.

MVPDs were less than thrilled, with Comcast calling the plan a “regulatory overreach.” 

Early on, the MPAA indicated that programming world’s attitude towards the new proposal might not be great, expressing disdain for the part of the plan that calls for an independent entity to license the apps.

But today, the Writers Guild of America came out in support of the new proposal.

In a letter to leaders of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, the guild said it "also believes in the need for a truly competitive media market in which independent and diverse programming can reach consumers, and supports efforts to expand competition and consumer choice,"

For his part, Chaplin doesn’t see the end result of the regulatory debate as being too material for cable investors. 

“The outcome is unlikely to move the market’s perception of the long-term economic prospects for cable, but we acknowledge that the likely headlines over the next few weeks may affect the stocks and there remains uncertainty about the final outcome,” he said.

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