The FCC circulated its long-awaited video competition report to the commissioners for their vote on Wednesday, according to several FCC sources. The report concludes, among other things, that online video has become a “thriving industry.”
The “annual” report (see below) covers developments in the video program market between 2007 and 2010. The term “annual” has been interpreted loosely. The FCC’s last report was in 2009, and that was the 2006 report.
According to one source who had skimmed the summary of the latest, 200-plus report — it had only been circulated an hour before — the report appeared to move away from weighing in on how competitive the marketplace was or wasn’t to outlining the competition that there was, as it has done with the wireless and satellite competition reports, said the source. “They do not seem to be saying it is not competitive,” said the source with the chuckle of one who will have to read all those 200-plus pages to find out just what it does say.
That is good news for cable operators if the alternative, as was the case in the last report, again was to cite that increase in competition, but conclude that it was not a sufficient governor on cable pricing. But it was bad news if the commission did not look at all that competition and conclude it should at least rethink some cable regs.
The report divides video programmers into three categories: MVPDs, broadcast TV stations and online video distributors, examining each individually. But it clearly portrays online video as a player.
“One of the most significant trends since the last report related to the increased importance of digital technology, consumers rising demand of access to video programming anywhere anytime, and the evolution of online video from a niche service into a thriving industry.”
Congress imposed the annual reporting requirement in the 1992 Cable Act to review the state of competition in the video programming marketplace. Cable operators argued in comments on the latest report that congressional mandates in the 1992 Cable Act on rate regulation, program access, program carriage, leased access, PEG access, cable ownership restrictions and more are now “relics of a bygone era” because competition has been “unquestionably” achieved.
The last report talked about how cable prices had risen faster than the inflation rate. One positive sign in the report was that a search for “inflation” turned up no hits. The last report talked about how cable prices had risen faster than the inflation rate. One positive sign in the report was that a search for “inflation” turned up no hits.