YouTube TV and Fubo Fight Back Against Effort to Turn Them Into Cable TV Companies By Local ABC, CBS, FOX, & NBC Affiliates





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Last week, 20 US Senators joined a growing number of local TV station owners to ask the Federal Communications Commission to turn streaming services like YouTube TV, DIRECTV STREAM, Fubo, and more into cable TV companies. On Friday, the Preserve Viewer Choice Coalition, a group that includes YouTube TV and Fubo, pushed back.

The coalition said the idea of applying 90s-era cable regulations on live streaming services goes beyond the FCC’s authority, it tweeted. “The current streaming landscape gives viewers access to local news through their pick of services & subscriptions, allowing them to watch what they want, where they want, when they want,” it said in a follow-up post.

This dispute pits the streaming services against an alliance of local TV station owners, which formed their own group called the Coalition for Local News in July to advocate that the FCC apply the same kind of cable TV-style regulations on cord cutting services. If the FCC agrees to change the rules, it would force YouTube TV, Hulu, Fubo, and more to strike deals directly with the owners of local TV station owners instead of the big networks.

The Coalition for Local News, made up of 600 local TV stations owned by groups like Nexstar, gathered some key allies when those 20 lawmakers sent their letter to the FCC, expressing concern that streaming services like YouTube TV could undermine local news if the agency doesn’t regulate them.

In the letter, the senators said, “In light of these marketplace changes, we urge the Commission to examine the video marketplace and seriously consider how it can ensure the viability of local broadcast stations and promote localism. As the expert agency, the Commission should be developing a record and recommendations to ensure that our regulatory system – which has enabled a thriving locally focused broadcast system that is the envy of the world – is not undermined by the explosion of new technologies that were not foreseen even a mere decade ago. Accordingly, we urge you to refresh the aging, unclosed record from the 2014 proceeding by seeking new public comments to provide updated video marketplace information.”

This prompted the Preserve Viewer Choice Coalition to publish its own tweets in response:

If local TV stations win, it would dramatically change how the FCC regulates live TV streaming services, and give companies like Nexstar and Gray Television a seat at the bargaining table. YouTube TV, Fubo, and others wouldn’t be able to strike deals directly with Paramount for all CBS stations, for example. Instead, they will need to go to each individual owner of each local TV station. This is what cable TV companies have to do, and it is what live TV streaming services could do if the FCC considers this appeal.

This comes as a growing number of local TV station owners have complained that streaming services are not paying enough for their channels. This could also drive up the cost of streaming services by forcing them to pay more to the FCC every year as cable TV companies.

For now, the FCC has not decided if it will look into changing streaming into a cable TV company. Though a growing number of groups, including local broadcasters and the National Association of Broadcasters, are asking them to do so.

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