For a number of years, local stations have expressed concern that video streaming services carrying broadcast TV signals should be regulated as cable systems (MVPDs). As such they should be subject to must-carry and retransmission consent requirements. This issue has been the subject of open proceedings at the FCC since 2014.
Earlier this year, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R IA) wrote a letter to the FCC asking the Commission to take action in this proceeding. Unfortunately, in her response, Chairwoman Rosenworcel indicated that she does not believe the FCC has jurisdiction to apply the retransmission consent and must carry rules to virtual MVPDs. In her letter, she stated:
"As reflected in the record, online video programming distributors do not neatly fit in these statutory definitions because they lack a physical connection to subscribers and do not use any electromagnetic frequencies when delivering programming to their viewers. As you know, the Commission lacks the power to change these unambiguous provisions on its own but can do so if Congress changes the underlying law."
The letter also indicated that this could require a change in the copyright laws. The bottom line, it does not look like the FCC will be moving to extend these rules to virtual MVPDs anytime soon.
You can see a copy of Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s letter here.