Windows battle takes on a digital dimension

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You don’t have to make a Federal case out of it.


In regulatory filing today, the Motion Picture Assn. of America, the chief lobbying group for the major studios, restated its support for a waiver of current Federal Communications Commission rules that would clear the way for a technology that would allow consumers to watch movies at home close to or during their theatrical release. The so-called selectable output control technology would prevent the illegal copying of movies, which has been a major stumbling block to delivering first-run movies directly to consumers.

“Many of us love movies, but we just can’t make to the theater as often as we’d like. That is especially true for parents of young children, rural Americans who live far from the multiplex and people with disabilities that keep them close to the home,” MPAA Chairman and CEO Dan Glickman said in a statement. “Having the option to enjoy movies in a more timely fashion at home would be a liberating new choice.”

This is actually not new. The initial MPAA request for the SOC waiver was made last summer. NATO filed comments with the FCC opposing the plan. The MPAA recently stepped up its campaign for the waiver and made a very public case for it today in a press release explaining its reasoning.

Variety notes NATO’s response.

National Assn. of Theater Owners prexy John Fithian said his org is opposed to the MPAA’s request because of the windows issue and not because of the antipiracy technology. He said it is disconcerting that the MPAA hasn’t said exactly when a movie would be made available.

“We do oppose an undefined model of early release to the home. We want to know how early these movies are going to be released,” said Fithian, who is meeting with the FCC this week on the issue.

Over at Deadline Hollywood, Nikki Finke looks at the story with typical restraint.