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    ETCA 2016: Media on My Terms

    June 29, 2016

    After opening remarks from SMPTE's Executive Director Barbara Lange and Pat Griffis, Tom Coughlin kicked off Day 2 of ETCA 2016 with an all-star panel focused on how media experiences can be truly personalized. Jim Burger started by educating us on the legal issues involved, especially the impact of FCC decisions. Burger presented the FCC's rulemaking as an attempt to apply facility-centric rules typically used to regulate cable providers to the new, non-facility-based, OTT (Over The Top -- e.g. Internet-based) providers. This would give OTT providers access to content, like over the air broadcasts, they don't have currently. However, Burger explained that key OTT players like Netflix and those represented by the CTA believe the obligations outweigh any possible benefits. Separately, the FCC has proposed rules that would open up the STB (Set Top Box) market to provide more competition and more choice for consumers. This has been a long time coming, starting with 1994 legislation that called for consumer options. Burger lauded the goals of the effort, but relayed industry skepticism that the actual rules would achieve the desired result without excessive or inappropriate government regulations. He concluded with a quick update on the recent cable industry counter-proposal for HTML5-based video apps, although keeping full control over the interface, and potentially not allowing the recording of content. Erik Ramberg of Ericsson said that outside the US, open standards were very common for set top boxes, and speculated that the STB rental model common in the US was partially responsible. Mike Dolan, consultant to the entertainment industry, spoke about how future versions of ATSC would be able to incorporate various content streams, including all of OTT, OTA, STB-baed, and potentially even wireless delivery integrated into one consumer device for the home.

    Milo Medin from Google stressed the importance of open standards, and said he was pleased to see at least some movement on this topic from the cable industry -- and felt that opening up the set top boxes would be good over the long term for the cable industry. He also echoed what we have heard throughout the conference -- that the wide-availability of consumer-friendly content creation tools and user-contributed content platforms like YouTube and Facebook has democratized entertainment content (although ironically, those platforms themselves become well-compensated gatekeepers, as we've seen recently with concerns over Facebook's possibly playing favorites). Tim Baharin brought a tech industry perspective to the discussion, stressing the potential for both 360-video and Virtual Reality to up-end the entire personal entertainment experience. He also pointed out that from his research with Millennials they are using a streaming box plus a simple OTA antenna to replace more-traditional, and more-expensive, cable plans.

    Tag(s): OTT , ETCA2016 , ASTC , STB , OTA

    David Cardinal

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