Tuesday, March 01, 2016

FCC wants to force cable industry to reduce anti-competition clauses with content providers, before approving merger of Time Warner and Charter

The Wall Street Journal, in a Business and Tech page lead story Monday, February 29, reports that “FCC probes Cable’s influence on Web TV” in a story by John D. McKinnon.

At issue is the practice that when telecommunications  cable or FIOS companies like Comcast and Time Warner develop contracts with programming channels offering content, they insist on clauses that minit the content providers from offering programming on the Internet directly (outside of cable) except under certain conditions, such as a requirement that the program has already aired on cable and that the home user has to be logged on to a paid subscription cable account to view the program.
That is why some companies like Netflix that offer content offer streaming only and don’t have cable channels at all.  This may be another reason (indirectly) why there seem to be data limits on true wireless (making it relatively expensive although very reliable), when compared to land-based high-speed Internet access sold with cable or fios packages (which are more prone to service disruptions).  The FCC may insist on a loosening of the rules to approve a merger between Time Warner and Charter, maybe a big deal in the NYC area especially.  This could benefit some consumers.

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