Regular readers of this blog may recall our discussion last year of the Selectable Output Control. The rest of you are no doubt completely puzzled.
John Eggerton’s story explains what happened: “FCC Grants Partial Waiver for Early VOD Release of Theatricals.”
[The waiver gives] studios and multichannel video programming distributors, or MVPDs, the ability to disable certain set-top outputs so they can copy-protect the release of theatrical films to VOD closer to their release date.
We issued a statement attributed to NCTA President & CEO Kyle McSlarrow:
We’re pleased that the FCC has granted MPAA’s request to permit cable customers to receive first-run theatrical movies before their release on DVD. The Commission recognized that waiving its selectable output control rule would permit cable operators and other multichannel video programming distributors to provide their customers a new service which would not be available absent FCC action. This decision serves consumers well by allowing us to provide them more choices in how and when they can view new movies.
For a better understanding of the issue, it’s helpful to read some of our old posts. We had a post answering some of the SOC waiver’s critics (including responding to the charge that SOC “breaks 25 million television sets.”). The blog Ars Technica weighed in and we responded to their response, which lead to even more discussion here.
As we move into a world of great digital distribution of content – including, in this case, the possible earlier release of theatrical films to VOD – it’s understandable that “content owners [i.e., movie studios] rightly need adequate protection against indiscriminate and unauthorized distribution of their content…” (as we put it here). The group Public Knowledge (as quoted in John Eggerton’s story above) said that SOC “will allow the big firms for the first time to take control of a consumer’s TV set or set-top box, blocking viewing of a TV program or motion picture.”
Consumers today routinely deal with content or software that has copy protection. To describe this as “breaking” or “taking control” of your device seems over-the-top. Instead, what this hopefully means, is greater viewing options for you.