Aereo's Not Dead: FCC May Reclassify Web TV as Cable
Internet TV services may soon gain the right to carry TV channels.
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According to industry journal Multichannel News, the FCC is looking into changing the rules for over-the-top (OTT) services like Aereo, giving them "FCC-enforced access" to carry regular TV channels. This would effectively provide them with the same status as traditional cable and satellite companies, but also require them to pay retransmission fees and honor exclusivity rights.
Such a change would pave the way for Aereo's return, albeit at what would likely be a higher price point.
According to a recent, tentative ruling by the FCC, content providers must own the infrastructure that delivers their services in order to earn FCC-endorsed access. This arrangement naturally excludes web TV companies, which don't own your internet connection.
Now, the FCC is debating amending that requirement—a move that would radically change the web TV landscape. Broadcasters and cable companies haven't yet weighed in on the proposed change, but in the past the National Cable & Telecommunications Association has argued in favor of the "transmission path" requirement.
In case you're wondering, such a change would not affect your Netflix subscription. The proposed rule change would only apply to internet TV services that offer pre-programmed content—not on-demand video.
If the FCC goes through with this rule change, it will certainly give Aereo a leg up in its attempts to return to service, potentially allowing the startup to finally get a live streaming license. But its revival also depends on whether it can make amends with the broadcasters it took to the Supreme Court.