The world’s largest streaming companies have formed a coalition designed to enable a unified lobbying effort to stop or limit the extension of government regulation into this relatively new business. This is the first large coalition dedicated specifically to advocating for streaming companies interests in all relevant regulatory scenarios.
Members (shown above) of the Streaming Innovation Alliance (SIA) include Netflix, the Walt Disney Company, Comcast’s Peacock, Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max, Paramount+ and TelevisaUnivision and Univision’s VIX, plus smaller, more vertical groups such as BET+, Vault, ForUsByUs and Afroland.tv). The interests of other streamers also owned by coalition member companies, like Paramount’s Pluto and Disney’s Hulu, will also be represented.
Companies not so far in the coalition include Apple, Amazon and some leading ad-supported streaming companies, including Roku and Tubi, according to Axios, which first reported the news.
The alliance is being led by two senior advisors: former Democratic Federal Communications Commission Acting Chair Mignon Clyburn and former Republican Rep. Fred Upton.
In a statement, Charles Rivkin, CEO and chair of the Hollywood studios’ trade organization, the Motion Picture Association (MPA), who helped spearhead the SIA’s formation, said the MPA will work with SIA and its members to ensure that federal and state policy propels innovation in streaming, rather than undermining “the value and diversity consumers are enjoying today.”
The coalition will fight attempts to include streaming in regulation such as the proposed Kids Online Safety Act, which aims to protect children from dangerous online content and was driven mainly by concerns over user-generated content on platforms like social media platforms, but has been decried by entertainment companies as being far too broad and having troubling privacy implications.
Another current threat, from streamers' standpoint, is local broadcasters’ pressure campaign on the FCC to make live streaming services subject to the same distribution regulation that requires traditional live TV providers, including cable and satellite networks, to negotiate directly with local broadcasters to carry their stations. Local broadcasters argue that the regulation impedes their ability to enter and compete in the streaming sector, and specifically the online distribution of their self-produced news programming.
In July, companies including Disney/ABC, Paramount/CBS, Fox Corp./FOX, NBCUniversal/NBC/Telemundo, Warner Bros. Discovery, Univision, FuboTV and Roku formed a group called The Preserve Viewer Choice Coalition that is focused specifically on fighting an extension of the distribution rule to streamers. The entertainment companies argue that the current regulatory environment already allows local news stations to be available on streaming and other platforms, and that extending the regulation to streamers will drive up prices for consumers.
Following publication of this article, The Coalition for Local News, which supports extension of the rule to streamers, offered a statement that said in part: "Streamers have rapidly become a dominant player in the video marketplace, and the resources they have devoted to launch this coalition shows that. Unfortunately, this appears to be another act from big tech to claim modernized regulations will harm consumers – just like they argued before when they led the charge to destroy local newspapers by monopolizing ad dollars and distributing news content without fair compensation, leading to more than 2,500 newspapers closing since 2005... Local news is in jeopardy in the current unfair marketplace that is tilted in favor of big tech and the national networks. The solution is simple: revisit the rules so that local news can thrive in the streaming era – a solution that a leader of [SIA] has publicly supported.”