The Federal Communications Commission’s announcement Friday of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would “modernize” the definition of MVPDs marks the turning of the tide in FilmOn Networks‘s battle against the major network television establishment. FilmOn has spent years and millions of dollars on technology and legal fees in an attempt to make broadcast television content more accessible to the American public. As CEO Alki David said, “It’s happening. We’re winning, the public is winning.”
David and the FilmOn legal team worked hard to make the case for change to the FCC commissioners — and the struggle continues in courts across the country. During FilmOn’s most recent visit to Washington, D.C., David and FilmOn’s outside counsel met with each FCC commissioner’s office, advocating for the very change the FCC has now proposed. In fact, FilmOn’s attorney, is the only attorney cited in the 54-page NPRM document as having influenced the decision. According to FilmOn’s lead outside counsel, Ryan Baker, “The FCC’s move should be seen as the tip of the iceberg; I expect significant change over the coming months and years, as government moves to embrace technological change and promote the public good.”
FilmOn Networks has been battling to bring digital TV to consumers since 2010 — constantly improving its technology, purchasing and developing quality content, and fighting the corporations clinging to the status quo in courts across the nation.
In a statement David acknowledged there is still work to be done, but makes it clear that this essential step is the change the business needs and that FilmOn is ready to keep moving:
Though compulsory licenses may not be on the menu yet, the right for OTT services like FilmOn to negotiate deals with cable channels should soon be mandatory. No more games, time to let the vision of broadcast grow. Though the battleground for freethinking is still under fire, the end of the war is in sight. As predicted, technology triumphs over meddlesome old thinkers clawing to hold on to their archaic business models and even more defunct measurement systems. Mr. Wheeler and the Commissioners at the FCC have taken a brave and modernist approach despite the wishes of a monopolistic few. What they have done is embrace the rights and freedoms of the American people as the priority.
The playing fields of commerce and expression are leveled by this decision in ways that we only just have a glimmer of today. For FilmOn it has been a six-year legal fight against giant adversaries whose only thought was to stamp us out of business despite their obligations to the public.
FilmOn Networks topped 65 million unique users per month in 2014 and has recovered from efforts to undermine its reputation during the legal battles that culminated in the Supreme Court indicating that OTT services may be treated as MVPDs in May. In fact major media conglomerates are doing plenty of business with FilmOn: A deal was just completed with Disney’s ABC and Universal Studios is negotiating a theme park integration which will tap into parent company Anakando’s digital rights to images of deceased superstars. Meanwhile Fox, Universal and Netflix are all advertising on FilmOn.
Baker adds: “Moves like the FCC’s NPRM are truly win-win propositions. Although major networks have historically fought to prevent the introduction of new technologies initially seen as a threat to the traditional television model, ultimately even those networks (and other creative elements) have benefitted from technological advancement.”
Next David vows to lobby other government entities in Washington to galvanize support for the FCC rule change.
“I’m calling on all the people I’ve been in court with these four tough years to get behind Wheeler’s decision,” said David. “Because there is still such a massive untapped market in the delivery of Internet television — more than they can possibly imagine. We can create a truly robust, revitalized entertainment business.”
To the big networks, he adds: “The path of least resistance is the path to spectacular growth in television.”