Rosenworcel Signals FCC Won’t Apply Cable Act Rules to Streamers

 Jessica Rosenworcel at FCC confirmation hearing
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Federal Communications Commission chair Jessica Rosenworcel sent a clear signal to Congress she is not looking to apply multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) regulations to streaming video services, and that she does not think the regulator has the authority to expand into that area in any event.

Her remarks came in testimony to the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s FCC oversight hearing in its communications subcommittee.

Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-Calif.), whose state is the major player on both the creative and tech sides of streaming, posed the question to the chairwoman in his questioning.

He said that one of the things that had “really changed” in video delivery was the advent of streaming services and that, as a result, “questions have arisen” about the FCC’s ability to regulate online video distributors as they do traditional MVPDs. Those include rules program access and carriage regulations.

“Do you believe the FCC has that jurisdiction and do you intend to regulate straming services the same way that you do other MVPDs?” he said.

By phrasing the question as whether she intended to regulate them in “the same way,” he left Rosenworcel some wiggle room to regulate them in a different way. Her answer, though it was indirect, left the clear impression she was not looking to regulate online video services, though.

“I think the answer is that our authority extends only to what Congress provided us in the 1984 Cable Act and 1992 Cable Act,” she said, “and I think it is fair to assume that none of us in this room were contemplating the kind streaming services we have today when Congress passed those laws.”

Obernolte appeared satisfied, calling that a “pretty clear answer.”