FilmOn asks FCC for cable TV licence
Joseph O'Halloran
| 28 October 2014
The FilmOn online video streaming service has asked US telecoms and broadcast regulator the FCC for a licence to operate in the same way as a cable TV company.

FILMONThe Alki David-backed streaming service, like the equally controversial Aereo, retransmits local US TV feeds via the Internet for a monthly subscription. On 1 October 2014, the FCC revealed that it was seeking to give over-the-top (OTT) video providers status as multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), putting them on parity with cable MSOs and satellite companies. According to reports, the commission is considering extending its programme access rules to online providers that provide linear video streams, to allow them to negotiate retransmission deals with broadcasters.

Such a change would have huge implications for the likes of FilmOn.

In its submission to the FCC, the company confirmed its intent to commence retransmission of local TV broadcast stations to authenticated subscribers in local markets consistent with FCC Rules applicable to MVPDs subject to any applicable court orders or decisions. It added: "FilmOn intends to offer TV stations the right to elect must carry or retransmission consent. FilmOn will also provide program exclusivity, emergency alerts and information, closed captioning, equal employment opportunity and to otherwise comply in good faith with all of the rules and regulations that govern MVPD service."

This is a key element as FilmOn is no stranger to the courthouse. FOX and CBS brought a copyright infringement suit against FilmOn in 2013 and won, but after the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York overturned an injunction against Aereo, FilmOn took it to be a precedent that supported its continued operation. However in July 2014 New York District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald found the online streamer in contempt of court for continuing to operate, despite an injunction against it, and has ordered it to pay $10,000 for each day of 'illegal' service.