On the eve of the deadline to file complaints against a proposed FCC regulation of set-top boxes, several major Hollywood labor groups and organizations are pushing back in a major and united show of force, saying it would hurt the industry’s content creators. Together, these groups represent hundreds of thousands in the entertainment industry.
The MPAA, the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, the Recording Industry Association of America, the American Federation of Musicians, the Copyright Alliance, CreativeFuture, Crossings TV, the Independent Film and Television Alliance, the National Music Publishers’ Association, SoundExchange, VMe TV as well as individual creators are all letting their voices be heard, raising concerns about the potential impact on copyright and content creators’ ability to be compensated if the FCC’s proposal to regulate the set-top box market goes through. The public filings will be submitted today.
At issue are concerns about the lack of guarantees for copyright holders in the current FCC proposal. Each urged FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler to consider the potentially harmful impact on content creators. The move comes as other cable operators have been lining up to oppose the FCC’s move to help manufacturers produce competitive boxes, while No. 1 cable company Comcast is moving forward on a service (its Xfinity TV Partner Program) which will enable customers to access programming without a set-top box.
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association came out last month to say that the FCC should be more measured in its approach. NCTA CEO Michael Powell said, “Instead of rushing forward with a regulatory proceeding that will upset a marketplace that is undergoing such a dramatic transformation and achieving the goals that it seeks, the FCC should study these developments and reconsider the path it appears to be on.”
Even President Obama got into the act by standing behind the FCC proposal which would open the door for independent manufacturers to offer rival devices that unscramble pay TV transmissions. It also comes as other companies, such as The Screening Room, are looking to establish their own set-top boxes to stream movies day-and-date with first-run theatrical releases. That would financially benefit filmmakers like Steven Spielberg. Obama noted last month the lack of innovation in the industry as a justification for his support.