FCC waiver paves way for studios to push first-run movies into the home; rattles theater owners

Apple Online Store“Federal regulators have granted a controversial waiver to the Hollywood studios that clears the way for them to show first-run movies in the home shortly after — or even during — their release in theaters,” Richard Verrier reports for The Los Angeles Times.

“The Federal Communications Commission on Friday granted a petition from the Motion Picture Assn. of America, the chief lobbying group for the major studios, that would permit for a limited-period use of ‘selectable output control’ technology for watching movies in the home,” Verrier reports. “The technology disables video and audio outputs on set-top boxes to prevent illicit recording.”

“The lack of security has been a technical block to delivering first-run movies directly to consumers in the home. Currently, movies are available for people to watch in the home via video-on-demand three to four months after they appear in theaters and simultaneous or soon after they are released on DVD,” Verrier reports. “Movie theater operators view warily any move by the studios to push up the showing of major Hollywood movies before they come out on DVD, fearing that it will undercut ticket sales.”

Verrier reports, “Under the ruling, studios could use the technology for a window of 90 days, or until the movie is released in DVD, whichever comes first. After the 90-day window, the studio would no longer have the security protocol.”

Full article here.

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50 Comments

  1. This first run movies in the home thing is bulls__t. They have no intention of doing this and stripping the lucrative theater income. It’s all a ruse under the guise of ‘innovation in the marketplace’ designed to get the FCC to allow this sort of travesty.

  2. @jjjj

    I don’t see how this tramples consumer rights. What right does the consumer have right now–waiting until release so the theaters can have first crack at making the money? So you can spend $10-$20 per ticket? Hmm…

    Theaters are dinosaurs. I only go there with my kids, and then maybe, maybe 1-2 a year. But maybe I am different. Perhaps the movie crowd is older or younger than my demographic.

  3. A friend has a home theater with a gigantic projection screen and a great sound system. We watch movies there a lot, and we’d probably have seen Iron Man at his house last night instead of going to the cinema. We could have had cocktails and much cheaper concessions. I’m not sure why anyone is upset out this… Unless you run a theater.

  4. @Contrarian

    I stopped going to theaters because it seems half of the other audience members see the event as a social occasion, and laugh, talk and shriek with each other and their friends on their phones. Theater owns do nothing to dissuade this behavior. Also, the theaters are filthy and sticky, and feel like a two or three hour flight in coach on a discount airline. No thanks.

  5. Sorry, Tony. I live in a relatively small town. I attempt to include city dwellers in theater ticket estimates.

    @C1

    Now you’re talkin’! Movies and cocktails! And then more cocktails! Concessions? No thanks, the calories interfere with my alcohol consumption ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

    We live in a world where most things in every day life were set in the 50s, post WWII era. The Times They are a Changin’ (why are there dogs howling in my neighborhood now?)

  6. AND…$20 buys me a bottle of my favorite gin. With a nice dry vermouth, olives, my evening is complete.

    And, for you tea-totalers, I hereby declare that by the transitive property of osmosis, any fruit, nut, or vegetable in a drink, makes the whole drink a fruit, nut or vegetable. I should have my article published in Nature any day now.

  7. @ Contrarian

    I like the way you think.

    On a related note, I was slightly made fun of for bringing my iPad to the movie, ironically by someone with an iPhone in their hand. I simply said “this doesn’t ring”. As we were sitting there waiting for the show and talking about movies, I was adding them to my Netflix que.

    WIN.

  8. I don’t mind watching firs run movies like “Ishtar” or “Shanhai Surprise”. I mean those are really worth watching at home on a first run basis. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

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