The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States is mulling changes to how it regulates television programmes aired over the internet, according to its chairman, Tom Wheeler.
The idea is to classify internet TV in a similar category to that of satellite television and traditional cable. If approved, the new regulations could aid internet TV companies in competing with traditional pay TV for the right to stream sought-after network programmes on the Web. Beneficiaries include the internet TV services of Verizon, Dish Network Corp and Sony Corporation.
However, the plans have not yet been submitted to its four commissioners, who are required to vote on the measure in order to officially propose it and start the process of gathering public comments, said Wheeler.
He explained that the new regulation was prompted by the need to keep up with the rapid growth of technology.
Only online video services that provide scheduled programmes similar to traditional television will be covered by the proposed rules. They will not apply to streaming services that offer on-demand content such as Netflix.
Under its watch, the FCC ensures that satellite and cable TV providers like Comcast Corp can negotiate for the rights to re-air popular network programmes. Online video companies do not enjoy such support because they don’t have their own distribution facilities and they use a different technology.
The FCC’s objective with the proposed regulation is to ensure fair competition by introducing a technology-neutral definition of a “multichannel video program distributor”, added a government official who wished to remain anonymous because the plans are not yet final.