Movie Studios Ask FCC for Help in Making Riskless Profits
Written by Video Savant
Tuesday, 10 June 2008
First the DVR-bashing MPAA came for our pay-per-view (Golden Goose Genocide: Hollywood Guns for DVRed PPV), and not too many people noticed. Now those troglodytes at the MPAA are looking to block the DVRing of recently released movies appearing on subscription HDTV services.
At the request of theatrical film makers, the Federal Communications Commission on Friday quietly launched a proceeding on whether to let video program distributors remotely block consumers from recording recently released movies on their DVRs. The technology that does this is called Selectable Output Control (SOC), but the FCC restricts its use. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) wants a waiver on that restriction in the case of high-definition movies broadcast prior to their release as DVDs.
This is all about the various "release windows," where Hollywood films start their commercial sojourn in the local cineplex, and eventually work their way to DVD, cable/satellite and network TV. The MPAA says its request for the do-not-record exemption is being made in order that it can provide these movies to satellite and cable sooner, without the risk that DVR usage will eat away at subsequent DVD, Blu-ray or download sales. Once those other releases take place, the MPAA says the do-not-record blocks would be lifted.
Does anyone really believe this nonsense? If the movie studios are interested in releasing their products to the cable and satellite distribution chain earlier, it's not about altruism -- it's because they believe that doing so means there could be some extra money to be made. But clearly, the Hollywood bean-counters have done their risk analysis and they've determined that while there's definitely money laying unclaimed on the cable/satellite table, there's a possibility that taking this cash could mean less money from DVD/Blu-ray/download sales. So, blocking the use of DVRs with these early releases provides some protection.
A decade or two ago, Hollywood running to Congress asking for protection from itself would have been laughable. Today, it's business as usual -- and it's pathetic.