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Weekly News from the President- Trick or Treat?

You may still be in a post-sugar rush from Halloween festivities in your neck of the woods. I hate to tell you this, but there were a couple other surprises in the last week or so from the FCC – it’s just not clear if they were tricks or treats.

Last week on his blog, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler confirmed what had been speculated in the media for a while:  That he is circulating a proposed rule-making to expand the definition of Multichannel Video Program Distributors (MVPDs) to include new entrants in linear television distribution – so called Over The Top (OTT) program services.   OTT services include companies like Hulu and Netflix that are an application for video that get distribution via broadband.   The Chairman wants to consider linear OTT services that distribute channels with a program schedule as potential competitors to cable.   You can read the Chairman’s blog here:  http://www.fcc.gov/blog/tech-transitions-video-and-future

What could that mean?  Well, the devil is in the details, and the details will be the subject of a lot of debate in 2015.   At the very least, it opens a series of questions about the nature of cable competition, and a series of questions for PEG television operations – which need access to audiences and to resources to produce programs.

We can expect some type of rulemaking procedure in early 2015, and ACM will keep you posted about the process and questions the FCC is asking different stakeholders, and how you can be involved to protect PEG services in your community.

The other thing to mention about last week is the passing of the once-final FCC deadline for comments in the Comcast Time Warner Charter transactions.   It went by without anyone saying “Boo!” because the Commission has stopped the review process in both the Comcast and the AT&T DirecTV mergers reviews.   The reason?  Apparently, a lack of timely information from different parties in the discovery process.

We will keep you updated of new deadlines in the review process in the coming days, but in the meantime, ACM is collecting information from different communities about availability of HD channels, electronic program guides, and issues with placement of channels on all systems involved in the swaps and mergers.   Please contact me at mwassenaar@allcommunitymedia.org if you have information about what’s been happening in your community that would be important for the FCC to hear.   That even includes the simple fact that you cannot negotiate for HD in your community because you work in a place with statewide franchising!

And let me know too if you want to be involved in our policy work in the coming year.  I am drawing up plans with members and our Board of Directors in coming days, and we need volunteers who are interested in doing advocacy work, organizing others, and helping with our campaigns in 2015.    I would love for you to be a part of what’s ahead!

Onward,

Mike Wassenaar- President
mwassenaar@allcommunitymedia.org
612-298-3805