Potential FCC ruling could pave way for Apple Internet TV service

Potential FCC ruling could pave way for Apple Internet TV service

Summary: The commission is considering a change in the definition of a "multichannel video programming distributor" that could make it a whole lot easier for Apple to compete against pay TV providers.

TOPICS: Government US

Several weeks I posted on Apple's contentious negotiations with broadcasters about obtaining content for a possible Apple television and complementary Internet TV service. Now the FCC is considering a change in the definition of a "multichannel video programming distributor" that could make it a whole lot easier for Apple to compete against pay TV providers.

While MVPDs to date have been limited to companies like Comcast, DirecTV and Verizon, the commission is mulling whether online companies like Hulu or Netflix could fall under that definition. The importance of being an MVPD is that such firms have the right to be able to distribute certain programming that they would otherwise have to negotiate separate contracts for. The result could be potentially disruptive for the pay TV industry, which is why they are naturally cautioning the FCC to move slowly on its decision.

The ultimate ruling could play a huge factor in what Apple could deliver in addition to a new television set, which is already rumored to be in pilot production. Rather than going to each channel and attempting to negotiate -- or, according to some, bully -- it into a deal for programming, Apple could just offer a slew of channels like any cable provider. It could help spur the growing movement for "cord cutting" -- people using online video services to replace their pay TV subscription.

While those pay TV providers would still be the dominant way consumers get Internet access to access online MVPDs, allowing more competitors could further erode subscribers' willingness to bundle Internet connectivity with TV packages. Needless to say, there will be a lot of lobbying by parties on both sides of the issue before the public comment period ends. The result could make it far easier for Apple to become a major player in the TV industry without even needing to dole out huge amounts of the cash on which the company is sitting.

Topic: Government US

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  • Good Move

    While I am not an Apple fan, I do hope the FCC makes these changes. As someone who can only get satellite TV at my home but do have high-speed DSL. I'd love to be able to get full-fledged "cable TV" via the internet.
    • Agreed! As an admitted Apple fan I agree but not because

      Apple has some advantage but because as a consumer I see many companies joining in a new battle for business. MS, Google, Amazon... Not too mention the already existing cable giants all battling for the all mighty consumer cash.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
    • I am for competition...

      And this would definitely deliver that. The cable and dish providers have had their exclusive mitts in the American pocket book for far too long.
      • Apple fan or not doesn't matter

        Since this is not really about Apple it doesn't matter how you feel about them. I too am for the competition. At this point the cable and sat providers have too much control over our options. Competition like this will force them to compete on quality of service as well as price. Too many times in the past I have been limited to on two choices of cable in my area only to have one by out the other and leave me with no options.
  • Hmmmmmmm.

    Do you suppose "ala carte" TV might have been what prompted Steve Jobs' "I've cracked it" remark? I knew those big Apple server farms were good for something!
  • How can this work if Apple isn't the ISP, too?

    Comcast has cracked-down on "excessive" monthly bandwidth. Will there be protections from this? Also, cable Internet speed is at the mercy of shared bandwidth. If everyone on the block is watching Internet TV, what's that going to do to computing speed and video quality? As it is, mlb.tv is always dumbing-down the resolution and/or freezing and I've got the second-highest speed Internet package!
    • Tech to the rescue?

      What "IF" one of the many things Apple has been working on is a FAST system to compress and decompress data so arbitrary limits can be bypassed?

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • Apple making an improved codec? Nah

        They'd have to figure out how to compress already heavily compressed 50 GB Bluray movies to ~5 GB...
      • Never say never or in this case nah:)

        I'm certain Apple has been working on this kind of thing for decades now as have others and "IF" Apple does not own it they can buy whomever might.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
    • The shortage is a lie...

      Distributors aren't on the verge of blackouts and having a technology crisis (although they'd like you to believe this).

      Their shortage is fuel for excusing their blocking and charging at a premium for services previously expected. "Fair use" equates to "blocking the competition."
    • Include a "DVR"

      Possible solution is include storage an allow you to set (just like with a DVR) what programs you want stored locally. You might have to wait until the day after it "airs" (I currently record everything to watch later anyway) but during the night it can automatically download programs when there is more available bandwidth. There would not be an issue with bandwidth when you went to watch the show later. Pretty much everyone I know with a DVR all but refuses to watch live TV programming, always opting to record and watch later so this might solve that issue. Doesn't really help if the ISP limits the monthly total though.
  • Potential FCC ruling could pave way for Apple Internet TV service

    If it makes cable TV cheaper and breaks their monopoly I'm for it.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • DAMN!!!

      LD, this is one of the [b]FEW[/b] times I agree with you!

      The prospect of those greedy cable monopolies getting screwed, instead of them screwing us, is delicious. The FCC can't rule fast enough.

      The most distasteful part of the cableco monopoly situation is the municipal exclusive operator franchise.

      With no competition, their service almost always sucks!

      With no competition, they have no reason to keep rates in line!
    • Loverock Davidson believes the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

      Apple and Loverock together at last! Grin.
  • Go for it

    I hope the FCC does change it. It would be great if they simply made the ruling today, instead of waiting.
  • For it to work

    Companies like Comcast have to stop limiting bandwidth. That said I actually understand why they limit bandwidth, I just don't believe it can work if everybody starts getting their TV over the Internet full time.

    I also know that Comcast's new cap is 300GB/month for consumers of off-network traffic (Comcast doesn't count traffic from their network properties). Unless Comcast and others kill the limit switch Apple TV will be a niche product that only those willing to pay for a business class Internet connection will be able to properly utilize.

    All in all I'd like to see more MVPDs available, I pay for Hulu because it works well for me where cable is not an option and satellite is blocked by the trees I don't want to cut down. I'd be willing to pay more if I could watch shows day of broadcast and get options like HBO, Starz, Showtime, Cinemax, etc...

    The other problem... where does mobile fit in the bandwidth picture, Apple really needs to think about this side since mobile really is their product niche to lose at this point.
  • U-verse

    When AT&T tried to bring U-verse to CT they were initially approved as an MVPD. Comcast lobbied the state and got the rules changed, and AT&T promptly shelved their installations of U-verse in CT. Thanks Comcast!
    • Love U-verse but

      I have had U-verse for a little over a year and love it compared to previous suppliers but like the thought of these new options a whole lot more.
  • Cable companies fighting this to the death

    The lobbyists for TWC, Comcast and AT&T have opened the bank vaults and are handing out golden handshakes left and right at the FCC and the halls of Congress. They are also pushing metered service as a way to curtail access to competitors such as Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, iTunes, etc. If they have their way, streaming a movie will cost more in data charges than buying the DVD at Walmart unless you use their VOD service and subscribe to premium cable at $120/month.

    Rest assured that the old-line cable and telecom companies know EXACTLY what buttons to push and who to pay off. The only thing that will change the situation are subscribers getting fed up with being ripped off and voting with their pocketbooks.
    terry flores
    • Then they must die. I mean that is a variety of ways:P

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn