Hulu Meets With FCC Commissioners, Top Staffers

Staffers ask CEO about revenue models, cost structure, program acquisition
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The FCC's ongoing interest in online video access issues relating to the proposed Comcast/NBCU joint venture continued apace this week, with executives from Hulu led by CEO Jason Kilar meeting with five separate groups of FCC staffers including two commissioners and top aides to the chairman.

According to an FCC filing, staffers asked about "revenue models and cost structure, program acquisition, advertising sales and audience measurement" in particular, and more generally "future access to video content by OVPDs in the context of the emergence and continued development of online distribution business models that can enhance competition in the video distribution marketplace to the benefit of consumers, content owners and advertisers."

Public interest groups are concerned that Comcast would favor its own online content over that of others and have pushed for online program access conditions similar to the FCC's program access rules on traditional video.

NBC has recognized that possibility. According to another ex parte filing at the commission, in a meeting with John Flynn, senior counsel on transaction to FCC Chairman Julius Genachwoski, Kathy Zachem VP of regulatory and state legislative affairs for Comcast, said that  "program access remedy" for online video distribution would be "very complicated," and if the commission did consider applying one, "the post-transaction company should not be precluded from entering into online programming deals that are standard throughout the industry. Comcast has committed to making programming available on both nbc.com and Hulu.

The concern by some public interest groups is that Comcast could move some of the high-value, currently-free content on those sites to an online pay model.

The FCC has asked a raft of online content-related questions in data requests of both companies, understandable since FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has suggested that broadband is where much of the media delivery action is going to be in the future.

NBC may be suggesting the same thing in using the relatively new term of "OVPD," for online video program distribution, perhaps the one-day success to the familiar MVPD.

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