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Federal Communications Commission plans to start regulating streaming services similar to TV networks

The FFC's proposals will be of great concern to Apple, Amazon and Microsoft

Silicon Valley will be concerned to hear that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering regulating online video services, like it does with cable companies.

The FCC is expected to vote on the proposal in October in a move that would bring streaming video firms such as Amazon, Apple and Google under the same regulations as cable and satellite TV firms.

According to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, the changes are designed to help online video providers become stronger competitors to cable and satellite firms by making it easier to obtain valuable TV programming for the Web.

The plan would only apply to streaming companies known as internet "linear" programming providers that have several channels offering streaming of pre-scheduled shows like local news and live sports.

This means the proposal would not apply to on-demand streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu or YouTube because they do not show any pre-scheduled programs

The changes could benefit small streaming companies, such as SkyAngel, Pluto TV and FilmOn who would be able to use the FCC’s programme rules to ensure TV networks offer the licensing of their programs.

However the larger tech firms are less enthusiastic. Gregory Barnes, general counsel of the Digital Media Association, a lobbying group that represents the tech firms told The Washington Post that the regulations would “eliminate their ability to experiment” at a time when they are still “tinkering with existing business models to respond to consumer demands”.

TV networks may be apprehensive of the proposals too, fearing that their ability to reject deals with streaming providers and negotiate privately for distribution contracts will be closely scrutinised by the FCC.

Last week, AMC president of distribution Bob Broussard and other executives met with top aides to the FCC chairman and claimed that the new rules would hurt their bottom line and brand.

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