Online Video Distributors and the Current Statutory and Regulatory Framework: Issues for Congress
Digital and Internet protocol technologies have spawned a number of online video distributors (OVDs) whose "over-the-top" video services are in some ways akin to, and in some ways different from, traditional cable and satellite video programming distribution services. However, most of the statutory and regulatory framework for video predates the commercial Internet and was developed within a policy debate that could not consider digital technology and online services. As a result, many statutory provisions apply only to cable companies or satellite carriers, or only to "multichannel video programming distributors" (MVPDs)-a category that includes cable and satellite operators, but as currently interpreted by the Federal Communications Commission excludes online video distributors. Congress has begun to consider this issue. At both the June 27, 2012, House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology hearing on "The Future of Video" and the July 24, 2012, Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing on "The Cable Act at 20," questions were posed about which of the existing statutory provisions and regulatory rules, if any, should be applied to the new service providers, which provisions and rules should be modified in light of the new technologies and new market realities, and even whether changed circumstances are so great that major statutory reform is needed.
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