FCC initiates proceeding to explore diversity in independent video programming

Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel’s office announced that she has circulated a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) among the other commissioners that would initiate a proceeding to explore the marketplace for independent video programming distribution on video platforms. According to the statement, the proceeding is intended to serve the FCC’s underlying goal of fostering a “diverse, robust, and competitive marketplace for the delivery of [multichannel video] programming.” If adopted, the NPRM reportedly would also seek comment on the state of the marketplace for diverse programming and what actions the FCC could take to promote competition.

In her statement, Chairwoman Rosenworcel noted that the market for video entertainment has drastically changed in recent years, highlighting in particular the impact the pandemic had on the public’s viewing habits.

Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (“MVPDs”) such as providers of cable and satellite TV, have historically been an important source of video content for Americans. As a result, large studios and independent content creators alike have relied in large part on carriage agreements with MVPDs to reach the viewing public. Independent programmers have claimed that they face obstacles when seeking distribution on channel line-ups, which they say in turn deprives consumers of diverse programming options – an issue that the FCC previously raised in a 2016 rulemaking proceeding.

In today’s market, however, consumer preference has begun shifting to online content.  As video distributors and programmers evaluate how to best meet consumer demand in an evolving marketplace, the FCC appears primed to begin its own evaluation of the state of the industry and potential obstacles to competition.



Authored by Mark Brennan, Warren Kessler and Michele Farquhar.


Mark Brennan
Washington, D.C.
Warren Kessler
Senior Associate
Washington, D.C.
Michele Farquhar
Office Managing Partner
Washington, D.C.


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