Television as we know it is changing at a ridiculous pace as more and more people transition to Internet-based alternatives to the cable and satellite providers that have dominated the scene for decades. Although not much has been seen of it on the media, the FCC is preparing to vote on a new ruling that could drastically change the content on these Internet-based alternatives thanks to an 80-year-old law.
The future of television in the United States may hinge, oddly enough, on the government’s interpretation of an 80-year-old law. Regulators are close to determining whether some internet TV services, like Sling TV and whatever Apple is planning, should be treated like more traditional pay TV services. The decision will have a large impact on what kind of programming is available in these new internet bundles and how they compete with other options. The proceeding is being handled by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It hasn’t received much attention among the press or general public, but many of the companies affected by the ruling, from Disney to Verizon to AMC Networks, weighed in during a comment period that ended this week. The FCC’s decision is expected later this year. To explain why it’s so important, let’s take a step back.