Friday, November 13, 2020

FCC Proposal Would Reform Legacy Video Rules for Programming Disputes

At its November 18 public meeting, the FCC will be voting on a proposed rulemaking that would make needed updates and fixes to its legacy rules for video services. The Commission's rulemaking deserves a "yes" vote. The federal regulatory framework for multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) services has long been outdated. Until Congress updates the law, the Commission should do all it can to remove old unnecessary rules and streamline its procedures to reduce regulatory burdens. The Commission's proposed rulemaking regarding program carriage and other legacy video provisions furthers this important end.  

If adopted, the Commission's rulemaking would, among other things, clarify circumstances that trigger the start of the 1-year the statute of limitations for filing complaints with the Commission in disputes involving program carriage, program access, and good-faith retransmission consent. Also, ALJ decisions regarding such disputes would not take effect until 50 days after their release. And they would be automatically stayed upon the filing of appeals with the Commission, with an informal 180-day shot clock for the Commission to circulate a decision reviewing ALJ decisions in those matters.

For all the advances in video distribution technology and emergence of new video services, much of the MVPD market is still subject to regulatory restrictions that originated in the early 1990s, if not before. While replacement of the old framework awaits, the proposed rulemaking for program carriage and other disputes, part of its Media Modernization Initiative, is a worthwhile reform measure and it ought to be adopted. And the Commission's rulemaking ought to serve as another reminder that legacy regulation of MVPD services makes no sense in the era of Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ and many other new video programing alternatives.