October 15, 2008 [Herndon, VA]—The National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) announced today that it has reached an agreement for video distribution rights with Home Box Office, Inc. (HBO). With this agreement, rural video providers that are NRTC members will have access to programming from the company’s two 24-hour premium television services—HBO and Cinemax, including award-winning original series, films, sports, documentaries and specials.
The agreement includes rights for NRTC members to distribute all 26 HBO and Cinemax MPEG-2 standard-definition feeds and all 26 HBO and Cinemax MPEG-4 high-definition feeds to subscribers via MPEG-4 delivery. Read More …
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The lack of regulation of programmers allows programming companies to dictate price and must carry channels. Additionally, these companies have not provided sufficient standards to follow for providing transport IPTV. If you were an early adopter of IPTV and are distributing programming on leased access, you are allowed to continue. There are many examples of this with rural telephone companies using shared headends throughout the US. Many of the programmers simply are looking the other way. Additionally, you see the technical departments of many of these programmers approving systems for distribution but the legal departments of these companies are shooting it down.
It has to be said that many of these companies are doing things to protect copyright content and I applaud them for doing so. However, these are recent policies and do not apply to many of the early adopters. Specifically, many of the programmers are not allowing companies to use leased access even when they can show that it is a completely closed network and not susceptible to misuse which would open the programming to hackers on the net. Although we all know that eventually the content can be pushed to the net, the conditional access and encryption methods available today, at the minimum, do allow you to track the source of the pirated programming.
With all of this said, it is important that the FCC and Congress take a closer look at the business practices of the large programming giants.
Programmers should be required to allow for content using terrestrial means of connectivity even when it is leased. This would include leased access that would carry content to multiple providers around the use. It is ironic that this is allowed within a state and surrounding counties but not allowed to extend further. This is simply dictating a methodology that is outdated or directed from higher levels to stifle competition. You can choose to take sides in this argument as I believe many of the new operators need to be educated on the facts of delivery of quality programming and how to do so, but for experienced operators who are trying to expand in new markets, the decision to limit the mileage or scope of distribution on leased access is causing many operators to think hard about the capex it takes to expand. This is simply not acceptable and the FCC and Congress need to know about it.