In comments filed to the Federal Communications Commission on Monday, the National Association of Broadcasters said that Web-based live TV providers like ivi and Aereo offer services that, in the words of the filing, "expropriate broadcast signals at will."
Following a recent spat over access to programming between Internet TV provider Sky Angel and Discovery Communications, The FCC has solicited industry opinion on whether Web-based video services should be regulated like cable and satellite TV systems. The federal agency is seeking to redefine the words “multichannel video programming distributor” and “channel.”
In its comments, the NAB decided to focus on services that pose a threat to its members’ business models, rather than the likes of Hulu or Netflix -- two services that might qualify as multichannel video programming distributors under a revised definition.
As Tech Daily Dose’s Adam Mazmanian says: “It's not surprising that NAB didn't want a piece of the bigger picture argument, considering that Hulu is a joint venture of three of NAB's network members (Fox, NBC and ABC) and that network production arms get licensing fees from Netflix.”
Services like Ivi and Aereo have tried to provide unauthorized access to television content.
Ivi, which describes itself as a ”virtual cable company," has had its service suspended after being hit with an injunction following several suits by TV networks, affiliated stations and studios. It previously charged $4.99 per month for access to 70+ channels, but it did not pay content providers outside of a $100 compulsory licensing fee to the copyright office. The company had argued that because the FCC didn’t classify it as a cable company, it did not need to seek retransmission consent from broadcasters.
Aereo, which is also being sued by broadcast networks, is another live TV subscription service that makes broadcast programming available via multiple devices through a network of tiny antennas. Its co-founder is Barry Diller, current chairman of IAC/InterActive Corp. and the creator of Fox Broadcasting. Aereo charges subscribers $12 per month and its service is still live.