T-Mobile asks FCC to look at program licensing fees, MFNs, supports set-top proposal

Calling mobile video "the next frontier for mobile broadband disruption," T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) has submitted a mixed bag of commentary to the FCC, asking the agency to closely examine pay-TV "most-favored nation" (MFN) deals and its set-top leasing business, while also criticizing fast-growing broadcast retransmission fees.

The mobile carrier, which now serves 63 million customers, says subscribers have now streamed 190 million hours of free video via its new Binge On service and are now watching twice as much mobile video each day since Binge On launched in November.

In its comments to the FCC, T-Mobile said larger MVPDs are using MFN terms to "cherry pick" the best clauses in smaller, overall inferior deals made between programmers and OTT platforms, discouraging these agreements from ever occurring. 

Further, the wireless carrier says the closed, proprietary set-tops leased by MVPDs restrict innovation by third-party companies.

"T-Mobile is aware that the Commission has a separate rule-making proceeding that is looking at these issues and urges the Commission to consider how set-top boxes might impact the offering of innovative new services," T-Mobile said.

The wireless company, however, is more in lock step with the pay-TV biz on issues of program licensing.

"T-Mobile believes that the Commission should assess whether new entrants to the video marketplace are unable to gain access to programming on terms that will allow them to compete effectively with larger distributors and, if not, the impact on competition and diversity," the company said.

For more:
- read this T-Mobile FCC filing

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