[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 27 (Wednesday, February 11, 2009)]
[Pages 6875-6882]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-2916]



[MB Docket 07-269; FCC 07-207]

Annual Assessment of the Status of Competition in the Market for 
the Delivery of Video Programming

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The Commission is required to report annually to Congress on 
the status of competition in markets for the delivery of video 
programming. This document solicits information from the public for use 
in preparing the next competition report that is to be submitted to 
Congress. Comments and data submitted by parties will be used in 
conjunction with publicly available information and filings submitted 
in relevant Commission proceedings to assess the extent of competition 
in the market for the delivery of video programming.

DATES: Interested parties may file comments on or before February 27, 
2009, and reply on or before March 27, 2009.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by MB 07-269, by any of 
the following methods:

[[Page 6876]]

     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Federal Communications Commission's Web Site: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/efcs/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request 
reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language 
interpreters, CART, etc.) by e-mail: [email protected] or phone: (202) 
418-0530 or TTY: (202) 418-0432.
    For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional 
information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dana Scherer, Media Bureau at (202) 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a synopsis of the Commission's 
Notice of Inquiry (NOI) in MB Docket No. 07-269, FCC 07-207, adopted 
November 27, 2007, and released January 16, 2009. The complete text of 
this NOI is available for inspection and copying during regular 
business hours in the FCC's Reference Information Center, Room CY-A257, 
Portals II, 445 Twelfth Street, SW., Washington, DC 20554. The complete 
text is also available on the Commission's Internet site at http://www.fcc.gov. Alternative formats are available to persons with 
disabilities by contacting the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau 
at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY). The complete text of 
the NOI may also be purchased from the Commission's duplicating 
contractor, Best Company and Printing, Inc., Portals II, 445 12th 
Street, SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554, telephone (202) 863-
2893, facsimile (202) 863-2898, or by e-mail [email protected], or via 
its Web site http://www.bcpiweb.com.

Synopsis of Notice of Inquiry

    1. Section 628(g) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 
directs the Commission to report to Congress annually on the status of 
competition in the market for the delivery of video programming. This 
Notice of Inquiry (NOI) solicits data and information for the 
Commission's 14th annual report. We request information, comments, and 
analyses that will allow us to evaluate the status of competition in 
the video marketplace, changes in the marketplace between 2006 and 
2007, prospects for new entrants, factors that have facilitated or 
impeded competition, and the effect these factors are having on 
consumers' access to video programming.
    2. We encourage thorough and substantive submissions from industry 
participants and state and local regulators with the best knowledge of 
the questions and issues raised to ensure the accuracy and usefulness 
of this Report. We will augment reported information with submissions 
in other Commission proceedings. In the past, we have had to rely on 
data from publicly available sources when information has not been 
provided directly by industry participants and will do so again if 
necessary. Nevertheless, we are concerned that such publicly available 
information may not be adequate, especially when various sources 
provide inconsistent data.

Competition in the Market for the Delivery of Video Programming

    3. We ask commenters to provide data on video programming 
distributors, including cable systems; direct broadcast satellite (DBS) 
services; large home satellite dish (C-Band) providers; broadband 
service providers (BSPs); private cable operators (PCO), also called 
satellite master antenna television systems; open video systems (OVS); 
wireless cable systems using frequencies in the broadband radio and 
educational broadband services; local exchange carrier (LEC) systems; 
utility-operated systems; commercial mobile radio services (CMRS) and 
other wireless providers; and over-the-air broadcast television 
stations. In addition, we seek information on video programming 
distributed over the Internet and via Internet Protocol (IP) networks. 
We also seek information that will allow us to evaluate horizontal 
concentration in the video marketplace, vertical integration between 
programming distributors and programming services, and other issues 
relating to the programming available to consumers. We request 
information on technical issues, including equipment and emerging 
services. We continue to seek comments regarding developments in 
foreign markets, as they may contribute to our understanding of 
domestic markets and provide insight into factors affecting video 
competition. Where possible and relevant, we request data as of June 
30, 2007.
    4. We seek information and statistical data for each type of 
multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD), including:
    (a) The number of homes passed by each wired technology;
    (b) the number of homes capable of receiving service via each 
wireless technology;
    (c) the number of subscribers and penetration rates for cable 
services, including basic cable service tier (BST), cable programming 
service tier (CPST), themed tiers (e.g., family tiers, foreign-language 
tiers), digital cable service, digital tiers, a la carte services, pay-
per-view (PPV), and video-on-demand (VOD);
    (d) for noncable MVPDs, the number of subscribers and penetration 
rates for each available programming tier, a la carte services, PPV, 
and VOD;
    (e) how such cable penetration/subscription rate numbers were 
derived, and whether the party providing the data considers it a 
representative sample of the overall cable industry;
    (f) available channel capacity of the system; the number, type, and 
identity of video programming channels offered, the channel capacity 
required for such offerings and the tier or tiers on which such 
programming is offered; and the channel capacity of the system used for 
non-video services;
    (g) prices charged for various programming packages and the 
equipment required to receive them;
    (h) industry and individual firm financial information, such as 
total revenue and revenue by individual company segments or services, 
cash flow, and expenditures;
    (i) information on how video programming distributors compare in 
terms of relative size and financial resources;
    (j) data that measure the audience reach of video programming 
networks as well as relative control over the video distribution 
market; and
    (k) information on video distributor expansion into new markets, 
such as local telephony, high-speed Internet access, wireless telephone 
service, the percentage of subscribers taking these services, and the 
competitive advantages of offering these services, as well as 
information on new technologies being considered, tested, or deployed 
by MVPDs for video, voice, and data offerings.
    5. We are interested in data and information on the number of homes 
that have a choice of MVPD services. How many households can receive 
service from one or more providers (e.g., DBS, wireless cable, PCO) as 
well as an incumbent cable provider? How many consumers have access to 
wireline overbuilders? We also want to identify where wireless 
competition exists, where is entry likely in the near future, and where 
wireline competition once existed but failed. What effect has 
competition among MVPDs had on consumers (e.g., prices, programming 
choices, quality of service, and the

[[Page 6877]]

introduction of video and non-video advanced services)?
    6. To evaluate substitution between MVPD technologies, we seek data 
on the relative prices of similar services offered by different types 
of competitors. Many cable operators offer or plan to offer bundled 
service packages, such as video, voice, and high-speed data, as do 
other MVPDs. What effect does bundling have on head-to-head 
competition, and what effect does it have on MVPDs that do not offer 
bundled services due to technical or other limitations? We are 
interested in investigating methods for measuring and comparing bundled 
service packages, such as video, voice, and high-speed data, among 
    7. Barriers to entry can be regulatory, technological, or financial 
in origin. We seek to understand what these barriers are and how they 
impede competition in the MVPD marketplace. Are there any existing 
Commission regulations or statutory provisions that prevent new 
entrants from promptly deploying their networks and offering consumers 
new video service options? Are there steps that Congress and the 
Commission may take to encourage investment in new broadband networks? 
We seek comment on what modifications, if any, are needed to pertinent 
regulations or statutes to foster competition in the deployment of 
broadband networks and the provision of video services.
    8. We request detailed information about nonbroadcast programming 
networks, including ownership, the type of programming networks (e.g., 
national, regional, local) and the genre of programming networks (e.g., 
sports, news, children's, general entertainment, foreign language). We 
seek information about the proportion of national nonbroadcast networks 
that are vertically integrated with a cable operator. We also seek to 
identify programming networks affiliated with broadcast television 
station licensees not owned by a cable operator; and programming 
networks that are owned by MVPDs other than cable operators (e.g., DBS 
operators). How does the counting of international networks affect the 
calculation of the proportion of networks that are vertically 
integrated? We note that programming networks are being offered in a 
variety of forms (e.g., multiplexed networks, VOD, shared channels), 
and we seek comment on whether and how to count such programming 
networks for assessing trends in vertical integration. We ask 
commenters to provide information regarding the delivery mode (i.e., 
satellite delivery, terrestrial delivery) of each national and regional 
network as we are unaware of any comprehensive source of this 
    9. We request information on children's, locally-originated, and 
local news and community affairs programming distributed to consumers 
by broadcasters and MVPDs. To what extent is programming offered in 
languages other than English, nationally and locally? How is such 
programming packaged (i.e., part of CPST, digital tier, separate tier)? 
We also seek comment regarding public, educational, and governmental 
(PEG) access, including the number of channels currently being used by 
cable operators for this purpose. We ask for information on the 
programming provided by DBS operators in compliance with their public 
interest obligation. We also request information on the use of leased 
access channels and the types of programming distributed on them, and 
seek comment on whether these channels provide an opportunity for 
independent programmers to distribute their programming.
    10. We seek comment on programmers' access to MVPDs, including 
comment on the effectiveness of the program carriage and channel 
occupancy rules. We request information on the number of independent 
networks that launched between June 2006 and June 2007, including total 
subscribers; the distributors that carry them; the manner of carriage 
(e.g., expanded basic, digital tier, themed digital tier, VOD); and 
their ongoing efforts to obtain further distribution by cable, DBS, and 
other service providers. Specifically, we request comment regarding any 
difficulties programming networks encounter when launching a new 
service and information on the kinds of carriage arrangements that are 
required to secure MVPD carriage.
    11. We seek information on how video programming distributors 
package and market their programming. To what extent are MVPDs offering 
programming on an a la carte basis or in mixed bundles, themed tiers, 
and subscriber-selected tiers? We seek information on family friendly 
programming, including the cost and content of these packages. Are 
family tiers offered on a stand-alone basis or must consumers subscribe 
to other tiers (e.g., basic service tier, digital tier) to receive 
them? Do subscribers need additional equipment to receive the family 
tier? Do MVPDs offer or plan to offer consumers more choice in channel 
selection, specifically a la carte or themed tiers, rather than 
traditional tiering of programming services?
    12. We seek to assess the extent to which MVPDs have been able to 
acquire or license programming owned by other video distributors. Is 
there specific programming, national or regional/local, that is 
unavailable to either cable or noncable operators and, if so, why? What 
effect does vertical integration have on competing distributors' 
ability to obtain programming? Are there certain ``must-have'' 
programming services, or genres of services (e.g., regional sports) 
without which competitive video service providers may find themselves 
unable to compete effectively?
    13. We request comment on the effectiveness of our program access 
rules. What, if any, video programming services that were once 
delivered to MVPDs by satellite have been migrated to terrestrial 
delivery? Which terrestrially delivered networks are unavailable to 
some MVPDs under the so-called terrestrial exemption to the 
Commission's program access rules? To what extent are terrestrially 
delivered programming services owned by, operated by, or affiliated 
with a programming distributor available to other video programming 
distributors? What exclusive programming arrangements exist between 
programmers and MVPDs? With the advent of VOD, what are the competitive 
implications of video programming distributors securing exclusive 
rights to programming for inclusion in their VOD offerings?
    14. We request comment on competition issues specific to video 
programming distribution in rural and smaller markets, including the 
number of MVPDs serving small and rural markets, their subscribership, 
the services and video programming options they offer, the technology 
used to provide their services, and the cost for such video services. 
How does competition differ between rural and smaller markets and 
larger, urban areas? We seek information on alternative technologies, 
such as digital subscriber line (DSL) and fiber-based Internet Protocol 
television (IPTV) that small and rural operators are adopting. We seek 
information on any existing differences in program carriage agreements 
between larger urban systems and those in small or rural areas, 
including information on whether video programming buying cooperatives 
help small or rural operators obtain programming at discounted rates.
    15. We also seek specific information regarding MVPD service 
available in Alaska and Hawaii. We are interested in whether, and how, 
cable, DBS, and other MVPD services offered in these

[[Page 6878]]

states differ from that provided in other states. What competitive 
alternatives are available to consumers in Alaska and Hawaii? How do 
prices for the various packages of service compare to the average 
national price for such MVPD services? We also seek information on any 
differences in the equipment needed by consumers to receive video 
programming service.
    16. We seek comment on any factors that are unique to competition 
in multiple dwelling units (MDUs). How common is it for consumers to 
have choices among video programming services within MDUs?
    17. We also invite commenters to provide information on access to 
programming by persons with disabilities. We seek comment on what, if 
any, concerns industry and the public have with meeting these increased 
captioning requirements for new Spanish language and ``pre-rule'' 
English language programming. We also seek information on the level and 
quality of captioning for non-English language programming. We seek 
information on the quality, accuracy, placement, technology, and any 
instances of missing or delayed captions, and the amount of digital 
programming that contains closed captions translated from analog closed 
captions. We seek comment on the extent to which digital programming 
may not be captioned and ask why this is the case. We seek information 
on the availability of video description services, currently provided 
by programmers on a voluntary basis and the amount and types of video 
programming that includes video descriptions and whether MVPDs 
generally carry video descriptions inserted by programmers.

Cable Television Service

    18. For the 14th annual report, we seek updated information on the 
performance of the cable television industry. We request information 
regarding cable operators' continuing investments to upgrade their 
plant and equipment to increase channel capacity, create digital 
services, or offer advanced services. We request information on the 
development of various methods or technologies to increase system 
capacity, such as switched digital video technology.
    19. For individual cable multiple system operators (MSOs), we 
request information on the number of systems upgraded, the analog 
channel capacity resulting from upgrades, the digital channel capacity 
resulting from upgrades (including the digital to analog compression 
ratio used), the number of systems with digital tiers, the number of 
households where digital cable services are available, and the number 
of subscribers to these digital services. To what extent is new 
capacity used for non-video services? How have the structure and price 
of service tiers changed when systems become all digital? How would 
they change in the future as more systems become all digital? What are 
the implications for customer premises equipment?
    20. We seek information on mergers and other cable system 
transactions that occurred between June 2006 and June 2007, including 
the names of the buyer and seller, date of the transaction, type of 
transaction (i.e., sale or swap), name and location of the system, 
homes passed and number of subscribers, and the price. We request data 
regarding the effect of clustering (the practice whereby operators 
concentrate their operations in specific geographic areas) on 
competition in the video programming distribution market.
    21. We seek information on whether and how cable operators are 
changing the way they package programming and the role actual or 
potential competition played in any such changes. Do cable operators 
offer, or plan to offer, digital programming genre packages or themed 
tiers (e.g., family, sports, lifestyle themed tiers) or programming on 
an a la carte basis? We request data on the programming included on 
these tiers and their cost, including information on whether 
subscribers must purchase other tiers in order to subscribe to themed 
tiers or to purchase channels on an a la carte basis.
    22. Section 612(g) of the Communications Act provides that when 
cable systems with 36 or more activated channels are available to 70 
percent of households within the United States and are subscribed to by 
70 percent of the households, the Commission may promulgate any 
additional rules necessary to provide diversity of information sources. 
We previously concluded that the first prong of the test has been met. 
We request data and comment on whether both prongs of the 70/70 test 
have been met. That is, cable operators should submit the following 
information on a zip code basis: (a) total number of homes the cable 
operator currently passes; (b) total number of homes the cable 
currently passes with 36 or more activated channels; (c) total number 
of subscribers, including all subscribers in MDUs; and (d) total number 
of subscribers with 36 or more activated channels. To the extent that 
cable operators filed 2007 data for the purposes of complying with our 
2006 Report, they need not submit this same data again. We also seek 
comment on whether telephone companies that provide video service and 
overbuilders should be included in the 70/70 calculation.
    23. Under sections 614 and 615 of the Communications Act, cable 
operators must set aside channel capacity for carriage of local 
broadcast television stations. We request data on the percentage of 
broadcast stations carried on cable pursuant to retransmission consent 
agreements and the percentage that are carried pursuant to the must 
carry provisions. We also seek information on the percentage of their 
required set-aside channels that cable operators currently are using to 
carry local broadcast signals. To what extent do cable operators pay 
cash for broadcast station carriage rights, carry nonbroadcast 
programming networks, provide advertising time, or otherwise compensate 
broadcasters? We ask commenters to address the retransmission consent 
process, including the effect of retransmission consent compensation on 
cable rates, the ability of small cable operators to secure 
retransmission consent on fair and reasonable terms, and the impact on 
MVPDs and consumers of agreements that require the carriage of 
nonbroadcast networks in exchange for the right to carry local 
broadcast stations. We seek comment on these and any other issues 
relating to must carry and retransmission consent that affect 
competition in the market for the delivery of video programming.
    24. Section 612 of the Communications Act established the leased 
access rules, which require a cable operator to set aside channel 
capacity for commercial use by video programmers unaffiliated with the 
operator and provide standards for rates, terms and conditions for the 
use of leased access. We seek comment regarding leased access channels, 
including the number of channels currently being used by cable 
operators for these purposes and the types of programming offered on 
such channels. Are these channels accomplishing their intended purpose 
of providing competition to the programming channels under the control 
of the cable operator?
    25. We also request comment on the ``tier buy-through'' option 
mandated by Section 623(b)(8) of the Communications Act, including the 
percentage of subscribers taking advantage of this option; the 
problems, if any, it creates; the manner in which cable operators make 
this option known to the public; and the extent to which

[[Page 6879]]

the option is applicable (i.e., the extent to which programming is 
offered or purchased on a per-program or per-channel basis).

Direct-to-Home Satellite Services

    26. We seek information and data that explain the factors 
contributing to DBS's growth in the video programming market, which may 
help us assess whether those characteristics will continue to position 
DBS as cable's principal competitor. Is there evidence of meaningful 
price competition between DBS and cable? Do initial DBS equipment costs 
or other factors prevent cable subscribers from switching despite 
escalating monthly cable bills? Does the dynamic between the platforms 
change in markets where DBS offers local broadcast signals?
    27. We seek updated information on the geographic characteristics 
of DBS subscribership and the factors that account for its relative 
strengths or weaknesses in different markets (e.g., areas not served by 
a cable or other wireline provider vs. other areas). We continue to 
monitor technical limitations, such as line-of-sight requirements, 
which impede the availability of DBS to some potential subscribers, in 
particular MDU residents and residents in areas with natural 
obstructions, such as trees. How many, or what percentage of, 
households cannot receive DBS service because they are not within the 
line-of-site of the satellite signal?
    28. We seek updated information on the deployment of DBS satellites 
as well as information regarding pending additions to DBS satellite 
fleets, which will result in increased channel capacity or the 
provision of advanced services. We request information on DBS 
operators' current channel capacity and how they allocate it. What 
technical methods are DBS providers using to increase capacity?
    29. We request information on the number of markets where local-
into-local television service is offered, or will be offered in the 
near future, including the number and affiliation of the stations 
carried. What percentage of DBS subscribers are opting for local 
programming packages in markets where they are available? What is the 
cost to consumers of local-into-local broadcast service? What 
percentage of DBS subscribers also subscribe to cable in order to 
receive local broadcast signals? Both DIRECTV and EchoStar have 
launched local broadcast stations in HD in a number of markets. How 
many markets receive local high definition programming? We seek 
information on the type of equipment necessary for DBS subscribers to 
receive local HD broadcasts and the cost of the service and equipment.
    30. On December 8, 2004, the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and 
Reauthorization Act of 2004 (SHVERA) was enacted, which added some new 
provisions to the Communications and Copyright Acts pertaining to the 
retransmission by DBS of distant or out-of-market broadcast signals, 
including the option to carry broadcast stations deemed ``significantly 
viewed'' by the Commission. We request comment on the impact, if any, 
these provisions have had on the MVPD marketplace. With respect to the 
new authorization to market broadcast station signals deemed 
``significantly viewed,'' to what extent are such signals being made 
available to subscribers? If such signals are not being marketed, is 
the situation due to technical or operational considerations, problems 
with obtaining retransmission consents, or other reasons?
    31. We request data on prices for DBS programming packages and 
equipment, and the subscribership of different packages of programming. 
Do DBS operators offer any programming on an a la carte basis and, if 
so, what are the prices and subscription requirements associated with 
such offerings? What additional charges, if any, are required to obtain 
foreign language or foreign originated programming? We also request 
information about programming packages available to C-Band subscribers, 
including the types of packages offered, their prices, and the amount 
of programming that is offered on an a la carte basis and that is free 
and unscrambled.

Local Exchange Carriers

    32. We previously reported that LEC entry into the MVPD industry 
has been limited, but that developments demonstrated renewed LEC 
interest in providing video programming services. We seek information 
generally regarding LECs that provide video programming services. Are 
there any regulatory or statutory impediments to LEC entry into the 
video service market? Do LECs target specific areas or markets for 
deployment and what are the determinants of these decisions? How do LEC 
video services compare to those available from incumbent cable or 
satellite operators? Is there evidence of price competition between 
LECs, cable, and satellite operators?
    33. The major incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) have 
marketing agreements with DBS providers under which they sell the DBS 
operator's video services along with their telephony and DSL-based high 
speed Internet access service. What effect have these agreements had on 
LEC entry into the video industry? We also request comment on whether 
smaller ILECs are constructing their own all-fiber or mostly fiber 
networks to deliver video and advanced services to their existing voice 
and data customers. Are there any unique barriers to entry into smaller 
and rural video markets?

Broadband Service Providers

    34. We request information regarding the provision of video, voice, 
and data services by broadband service providers (BSPs), including 
municipal authorities, independent entities and competitive local 
exchange carriers (CLECs), as well as any entity that provides 
broadband services. Are video programming services offered in 
combination with telephone and high-speed Internet access services and, 
if so, how are rates affected by the packaging of multiple services? 
How many, or what percentage of, BSP subscribers purchase video service 
alone, video and telephony, video and high-speed Internet access 
services, or all three services? We seek comment on the effect that 
BSPs have on video competition, and the characteristics that facilitate 
BSP competitiveness (e.g., number of subscribers, homes passed, 
geographical reach, demographics, and business models). Are there still 
significant barriers to entry? What are the technical and economic 
factors that determine whether overbuild systems are successful?

Open Video System Operators

    35. To what extent are new wireline entrants operating under the 
open video system (OVS) classification, and what factors (e.g., state 
and local franchising requirements) cause new entrants to choose the 
OVS classification? How many subscribers receive video services from 
OVS operators and how many subscribers purchase the non-video services 
offered? We seek information on why new entrants have chosen the OVS 
classification. Do OVS operators offer video and non-video services in 
combination with one another and, if so, how are rates affected by the 
packaging of multiple services? What effect do OVS operators have on 
video competition?

Electric and Gas Utilities

    36. We seek information regarding utility companies that provide 
video services or plan to deploy them. To what extent are video 
programming services being bundled with telephone, high-speed Internet 
access, or other services? How does the ability to offer

[[Page 6880]]

bundled services affect the relative competitive position of these 
utilities? Are utilities' service prices similar to cable operators' 
pricing of such services? If not, how do they differ?

Broadcast Television Service

    37. We seek data and comment on the role of broadcast television in 
the market for the delivery of video programming. We seek data on 
broadcast network and station audience shares relative to those of 
nonbroadcast programming services. We also request data on broadcast 
advertising revenue. To what extent has cable gained local, regional, 
or national advertising market share from broadcast television? What 
forms of compensation are broadcasters receiving for retransmission 
consent? In terms of additional sources of revenue, to what extent are 
cable and DBS operators paying cash compensation for retransmission of 
broadcast stations? If the compensation is not cash based, how is it 
accounted for?
    38. We seek comment on a number of issues concerning the transition 
to digital television (DTV) service. We request data on the number or 
percentage of households relying solely on over-the-air broadcast 
television for programming. We solicit specific information regarding 
the number of households that will need digital to analog converter 
boxes as of February 17, 2009, because they rely on over-the-air 
broadcast television reception and do not have televisions with digital 
tuners. We also seek information on the number of MVPD households, by 
type of MVPD service, that rely on over-the-air reception for local 
broadcast service on one or more of their television sets not connected 
to an MVPD.
    39. We request information regarding the carriage of DTV 
programming by MVPDs and plans to increase the amount of DTV 
programming carried. How many MVPD subscribers are served by systems 
that carry DTV programming, and how many households are subscribing to 
such services when offered as separate packages? We also request 
comment on carriage agreements between MVPDs and broadcasters. We ask 
specifically how many noncommercial educational broadcast stations are 
being carried, and under what terms.
    40. We seek information on how MVPDs package and price broadcast 
and nonbroadcast DTV programming. What impact will the digital 
transition have on competition if cable has the capacity to provide 
broadcast HD programming, but DBS operators do not?
    41. We request information regarding the amount and type of DTV 
programming (i.e., network, local, syndicated) currently offered by 
broadcasters and information on broadcasters' plans to increase the 
amount of DTV programming. To what extent are broadcasters using their 
DTV spectrum for SDTV, HDTV, and multicasting? To what extent are 
stations locally producing DTV or HDTV programming? To what extent are 
stations offered network HDTV programming that they are either not 
equipped to pass through and broadcast or do not broadcast for other 
reasons? How are noncommercial educational broadcasters, including PBS 
affiliates, using the DTV spectrum? Are there differences in the ways 
that commercial and noncommercial broadcasters are using their DTV 
    42. Have the Commission's programs to educate consumers about the 
transition to digital television resulted in greater consumer 
familiarity with DTV in general and HDTV specifically? We seek data 
regarding consumers' awareness of the DTV transition, including 
consumer survey results. We seek information on the consumer education 
efforts of government, retailers, broadcasters, video programmers and 
producers, and others. How successful are these consumer educations 
    43. We seek information on the types of services and content that 
broadcasters are transmitting using multicasting. In addition, we seek 
information on whether multicasting is limited to large markets, or if 
stations in small- and medium-sized markets are multicasting. How much 
multicast programming is locally produced or locally focused? To what 
extent is the provision of multicast service dependent upon its 
carriage by cable and other MVPD operators? In how many markets are 
cable operators and other MVPDs carrying broadcasters' multicast 
programming, and which markets are they?
    44. DTV also allows broadcasters to use part of their digital 
bandwidth for subscription multichannel video programming services and 
datacasting. We seek information on the types of services and content 
broadcasters are transmitting using multicasting. To what extent is the 
provision of multicast services dependent on carriage by cable and 
other MVPD operators?
    45. We seek updated information on the adoption of the equipment 
needed to receive digital programming, either over the air or from an 
MVPD, such as the total number of digital television (DTV) displays, 
including HD-ready and Enhanced Definition (ED)-ready monitors, that 
have been shipped to retailers and how many have been sold to 
consumers. We request information on how many cable set-top boxes and 
how many DBS receivers contain over-the-air DTV reception capabilities?

Wireless Cable Systems

    46. Wireless cable operators offer limited competition to incumbent 
cable operators. Many licensees of the Broadband Radio Service (BRS) 
and Educational Broadband Service (EBS) used by wireless cable 
operators to provide video service have chosen to focus on the delivery 
of non-video broadband services, such as high-speed Internet service. 
Have factors such as concerns regarding access to programming, 
bandwidth considerations, local regulatory considerations, and bundled 
service offerings, led wireless cable operators to move away from video 

Private Cable Operators

    47. We request information on the types of services offered by 
private cable operators (PCOs), also known as satellite master antenna 
television (SMATV) operators. We request information on the number of 
PCOs in the United States, the geographic areas they serve, the 
identification and size of PCO companies, and the type of facilities 
they serve (e.g., hotels, apartment buildings, mobile home parks). We 
seek comment on whether PCOs are using CARS (i.e., cable television 
relay service) licenses to provide additional competition to incumbent 
cable operators.

Commercial Mobile Radio Service Providers and Other Wireless Providers

    48. We request updated information on the availability and 
deployment of mobile video services, including information on 
programming agreements between video programming networks and other 
content providers and cell phone companies. Specifically, how many 
mobile telephone users have access to, and subscribe to, such services? 
What equipment is needed to receive video over cellular systems, and 
what is the cost of equipment and service? In which markets is service 
available? Do current trends in mobile video suggest that we should 
consider mobile telephone providers that offer video programming to be 
    49. We seek information on video distribution from other wireless 
devices that are not CMRS providers and on the viewing equipment, 
including iPods and personal digital assistants (PDAs), used to receive 
such programming. We seek information on the manner in which video 
content is delivered to these devices (e.g., broadcast vs. Internet

[[Page 6881]]

downloading). We seek information on how programmers are re-purposing 
traditional broadcast and nonbroadcast programming for viewing on these 
devices, and whether programmers are creating content specifically for 
these new devices.
    50. We also request comment on alternative wireless distribution 
methods and technologies and the extent to which providers have adopted 
or are considering adopting them. We seek comment on the extent to 
which new technologies, such as WiMAX, are used to provide services 
that compete with those offered by traditional video providers, as well 
as information on the deployment of municipal Wi-Fi networks.

Web-Based Internet Video

    51. We request information on the types of video services offered 
over the Internet in both real time and downloadable formats, and 
request comment on the quality of web-based video relative to 
traditional video program distribution. We also ask commenters to 
provide projections of whether web-based video will become a viable 
competitor in the marketplace for the delivery of video programming 
and, if so, when such competition is likely to emerge. Further, we seek 
information on the extent to which Internet video distribution also has 
become a means by which some new programming networks are developing 
audience interest in their programming absent agreements with one of 
the major MVPDs for distribution of their programming over cable or 

Advanced Services

    52. We seek information on the advanced services offered by all 
MVPDs, e.g., VOD, digital video recorders (DVRs), high-speed Internet 
access, telephony, and HDTV. We request subscribership statistics; cost 
data; and information on the type of equipment that is required for 
each type of service offered. We request information on how MVPDs 
bundle these services and how this affects competition.
    53. For example, we seek information on the programming that is 
available through video-on-demand. Is there programming that is 
produced especially for VOD? How much VOD content is local? What amount 
of VOD content is exclusive to any one video distributor?
    54. We seek information on DVR services provided by MVPDs. What 
percentage of subscribers has access to operator-supplied DVRs, and how 
many subscribe to the service? How many use a DVR not supplied by an 
MVPD? We seek information on the characteristics of the DVRs offered 
(e.g., single or dual tuner, storage capacity). Do DBS providers still 
use DVRs to approximate VOD service? What percentage of the DVR set-top 
boxes are leased as opposed to purchased? Do MVPDs plan to offer a 
network-based or centralized DVR-like service?
    55. We seek information about high-speed Internet access service 
offered by MVPDs. What percentage of MVPD Internet access service 
subscribers also are video subscribers? How is the service priced, and 
do video subscribers receive discounts? What is the status of DBS high-
speed Internet access (e.g., telephone return path, two-way satellite 
delivered)? Are MVPDs giving subscribers a choice of Internet service 
providers? Has any MVPD blocked access to certain kinds of Internet 
content or applications?
    56. Finally, we seek information on the latest developments 
regarding Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony. Is it marketed 
as part of a bundle of services? Are discounts offered to video 
subscribers? To what extent are MVPDs phasing out switched circuit 

Technical Issues

    57. Technological developments have important consequences for the 
state of video competition. We seek comment and data on a range of 
developments related to consumer equipment, navigation devices, the 
Open Cable Application Platform (OCAP), PacketCable, CableCARDs, 
advanced compression techniques, technical standards, and home 
    58. We seek comment on the availability and compatibility of 
customer premises equipment used to provide video programming and other 
services. How many households currently have analog television sets 
that are connected to an external set-top box that allows for the 
provision of various MVPD services? How many of these set-top boxes 
only provide analog services and how many provide different types of 
digital service, (i.e., decode and display HD signals)? How many of 
these MVPD set-top boxes also contain cable modems, IP telephony 
interfaces, DVR capabilities, or home networking capabilities, and how 
are they priced? How many set-top boxes are capable of providing video 
programming on an a la carte basis and is any MVPD offering this 
    59. We also seek information on the retail availability of 
navigation devices to consumers. How many such devices have been sold? 
What are the obstacles to equipment manufacturers and others for 
obtaining approval to attach devices to MVPD systems? How does customer 
premises equipment design, function, and/or availability affect 
consumer choice and competition between firms in the video programming 
market? We request information on the development and deployment of 
electronic programming guides (EPGs), including the number and type of 
EPGs that video programming distributors offer or plan to offer to 
their subscribers, and the technologies used to distribute EPGs. We 
also request information on how many products are currently available 
with plug-and-play functionality, or are soon to be available.
    60. We seek updated information on developments regarding 
CableLabs' Open Cable Application Platform (OCAP) middleware solution. 
Which manufacturers are incorporating OCAP into their products? How 
many OCAP-compliant products have been deployed, and how many are in 
use today? What types of applications exist for OCAP? Do smaller cable 
systems have plans to deploy these devices and, if so, how will they do 
it? We seek information on the results of OCAP device trials by MSOs in 
select markets, and whether they are expected to lead to commercial 
deployments and, if so, when. We request information on industry 
developments to facilitate bidirectional services and interactive 
television (ITV) applications and services. We also request updated 
information on the state of the agreement between the Consumer 
Electronics Association and the National Cable & Telecommunications 
Association to incorporate support for OCAP in interactive Digital 
Cable Ready (iDCR) devices, and whether any technical issues remain.
    61. We solicit updated information on PacketCable, the 
specification standard for the delivery of advanced real-time 
multimedia services over two-way cable plant. We also seek updated 
information on CableCARDs, including the number operators have placed 
in service, the manner in which subscribers may obtain a CableCARD, 
whether operators require professional installation of the card, and 
any monthly subscription charges or one-time fees associated with 
installing or authorizing the CableCARD. Have MVPDs or consumers 
encountered problems with CableCARDs, and how have they been resolved? 
We seek information on the status of operators' efforts to develop 
multistream and two-way CableCARDs, and the impact this development 
will likely have on the competitive marketplace for digital cable-ready 
receivers, including DVRs.

[[Page 6882]]

    62. We request updated information on the development and 
deployment of any downloadable conditional access systems. We seek 
comment on what content protection technologies are now available, how 
they work, and what legal or marketplace impediments have affected the 
roll-out of such tools. We seek comment on what security measures are 
in use and the effect of the choice of such security measures on 
competition. We also invite comment on how the Commission can encourage 
the development of digital rights management technology that will 
promote consumer uses of, and access to, high value digital content.
    63. Broadcasters continue to improve their service and offerings 
through enhancements to digital Vestigial Sideband Broadcasting (VSB), 
called Enhanced VSB (E-VSB) and Advanced VSB (A-VSB). E-VSB was 
approved by the American Television Standards Committee in July 2004, 
as an amendment to the standard that allows broadcasters to choose 
between bit rates and added robustness without impeding HDTV. Possible 
uses of the technology include applications such as robust data 
broadcasting to desktops, transmissions of file-based information to 
handheld receivers, and ``fallback'' audio. However, E-VSB adoption has 
been slow due to a lack of demand and a lack of E-VSB enabled 
receivers. A-VSB is another amendment being proposed to the ATSC for 
mobile video applications. ATSC has accepted the proposal of A-VSB, but 
it has not yet reached the ``candidate standard'' stage, which involves 
more exacting technical review. We request information on these and 
other technological advances in digital broadcasting.
    64. We seek information on the effect that technical rules and 
standards have on the market for video programming services. Are there 
specific actions with respect to the establishment of technical rules 
and standards that the Commission may take to foster greater 
competition among video service providers? Do current technical rules 
and standards related to the provision of video services, such as the 
``plug-and-play'' standards, provide a level playing field among 
competitors in the video delivery marketplace?

Foreign Markets

    65. We seek information or case studies that address the status of 
competition in foreign markets for the delivery of video programming 
because developments in other countries can lend insight into the 
nature of competition in the United States. Specifically, we seek 
information regarding the differences between the U.S. market and 
foreign markets, including differences in pricing; packaging (e.g., a 
la carte offerings); deployment of VoIP; the DTV transition; and 
competition among MVPDs or over-the-air service. We seek input from 
distributors operating both in the United States and abroad. How do 
different regulatory approaches affect their business models? 
Commenters also should identify any country in particular that the 
Commission should examine.

Procedural Matters

    66. Authority. This NOI is issued pursuant to authority contained 
in Sections 4(i), 4(j), 403, and 628(g) of the Communications Act of 
1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 154(j), 403, and 548(g).
    67. Ex Parte Rules. There are no ex parte or disclosure 
requirements applicable to this proceeding pursuant to 47 CFR 
    68. Comment Information. Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of 
the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may 
file comments on the NOI, MB Docket No. 07-269, on or before February 
27, 2009, and reply comments on or before March 27, 2009. Comments may 
be filed using: (a) the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System 
(ECFS), (b) the Federal Government's eRulemaking Portal, or (c) by 
filing paper copies. See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking 
Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
     Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://www.Commission.gov/cgb/ecfs/ or the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Filers should follow the instructions provided on 
the Web site for submitting comments.
     For ECFS filers, if multiple docket or rulemaking numbers 
appear in the caption of this proceeding, filers must transmit one 
electronic copy of the comments for each docket or rulemaking number 
referenced in the caption. In completing the transmittal screen, filers 
should include their full name, U.S. Postal Service mailing address, 
and the applicable docket or rulemaking number. Parties may also submit 
an electronic comment by Internet e-mail. To get filing instructions, 
filers should send an e-mail to [email protected], and include the following 
words in the body of the message, ``get form.'' A sample form and 
directions will be sent in response.
     Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must 
file an original and four copies of each filing. If more than one 
docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, 
filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or 
rulemaking number.
    Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial 
overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service 
mail (although we continue to experience delays in receiving U.S. 
Postal Service mail). All filings must be addressed to the Commission's 
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
     The Commission's contractor will receive hand-delivered or 
messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary at 236 
Massachusetts Avenue, NE., Suite 110, Washington, DC 20002. The filing 
hours at this location are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. All hand deliveries must be 
held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes must be 
disposed of before entering the building.
     Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service 
Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton 
Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
     U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority 
mail should be addressed to 445 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20554.
     In addition, parties must serve the following with either 
an electronic copy via e-mail or a paper copy of each pleading: (1) the 
Commission's duplicating contractor, Best Copy and Printing, Inc., 
Portals II, 445 12th Street, SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554, 
telephone 1-800-378-3160, or via e-mail at http://www.bcpiweb.com; (2) 
Marcia Glauberman, Media Bureau, 445 12th Street, SW., Room 2-C264, 
[email protected]; and (3) Dana Scherer, Media Bureau, 445 12th 
Street, SW., Room 2-C222, [email protected].
    People with Disabilities: Contact the Commission to request 
materials in accessible formats (Braille, large print, electronic 
files, audio format, etc.) by e-mail at [email protected] or 
call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 
(voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).

Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene H. Dortch,
 [FR Doc. E9-2916 Filed 2-10-09; 8:45 am]