IPTV Provider Threatens Access Complaint - Broadcasting & Cable

IPTV Provider Threatens Access Complaint

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That was VP Peter Kiley's reaction to a letter Tuesday from IPTV site VDC.com, which aggregates channels online, offering some for free and charging for others.

COO Scott Wolf told B&C he has begun the process of filing a program access complaint against the cable public affairs net with the FCC, claiming it has not bargained with them for carriage, as he thinks FCC rules require.

It is still something of an open question whether IPTV services classify as multichannel video program providers. Both Congress and the FCC have been pondering the issue.

But Kiley, who planned to talk with Wolf Wednesday about the threatened complaint, said the issue went beyond the VDC's standing to complain to C-SPAN's need for time to decide what its broadband presence should be.

Kiley said C-SPAN has had multiple discussions with VDC, including meeting with top executives in which it made its position clear. That position is that, beyond being uncertain about what carriage or negotiation rules apply to broadband content aggregators, C-SPAN is uncertain about issues like security and copyright that it must resolve.

"We need to understand those issues in order to fashion an appropriate agreement," said Kiley. but beyond the technical issue, he said there were broader, philosophical ones C-SPAN needed to think through as well.

He says C-SPAN wants to clearly differentiate its broadband offering from the "uninterrupted, camera in the back of the room" coverage of its linear nets, including interactivity, links to source material, and more it is just starting to get its arms around.

Wolf told B&C that C-SPAN's response to VDC after a meeting at the national show was: Come back after you have gotten some big players. Wolf points out that it has Discovery, for one. Kiley agrees that its advice was to get some big players, but rather than a brush-off, he says the motivation was so that C-SPAN could piggyback on their due diligence on the security and copyright issues. C-SPAN currently streams its linear nets on its own Web site.

The current statutory definition of MVPD below, ripped from the FCC files (OK, they e-mailed it),  would is not definitive on the definition, spelling out what it includes, but not limiting it:

(e) Multichannel video programming distributor. The term ‘‘multichannel video programming distributor’’ means an entity engaged in the business of making available for purchase, by subscribers or customers, multiple channels of video programming. Such entities include, but are not limited to, a cable operator, a BRS/EBS provider, a direct broadcast satellite service, a television receive-only satellite program distributor, and a satellite master antenna television system operator, as well as buying groups or agents of all such entities.

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