Via FAS – CRS report – What’s on Television? The Intersection of Communications and Copyright Policies. Dana A. Scherer, Analyst in Telecommunications. April 20, 2016.
“In the 1940s and 1950s, watching television meant tuning into one of a few broadcast television stations, with the help of an antenna, to watch a program at a pre scheduled time. Over subsequent decades, cable and satellite operators emerged to enable households unable to receive over-the-air signals to watch the retransmitted signals of broadcast television stations. More recently, some viewers have taken to watching TV programming on their computers, tablets, mobile phones, and other Internet-connected devices at times of their own choosing, dispensing with television stations and cable and satellite operators altogether. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Congress, and the courts have overseen this evolution by applying a combination of communications and copyright laws to regulate the distribution of television programming…This structure has come under increasing stress as firms offer alternative ways to watch television programming, upsetting established relationships and raising questions about whether the key public policy goals defined by Congress can still be achieved. In particular, firms offering television programming to consumers over the Internet, known as online video distributors (OVDs), are not covered by some of the laws and regulations governing video distribution by providers that rely on their own facilities, such as cable and satellite operators. Station owners, meanwhile, are concerned t hat relationships between OVDs and broadcast networks could adversely affect stations’ revenues…”