Consumer advocacy groups rally around FilmOn X ruling

Wednesday, Jul 22, 2015

Watchdogs on the side of television viewers from Consumer Reports to–and even Fox News!–vouch for landmark ruling in Alki David’s favor.

FilmOn X CEO Alki David called it “a victory for everyone,” and Judge Wu of the U.S. Disctrict Court called it “better for innovation.” The Hollywood Reporter’s Eriq Gardner called it a “legal earthquake.” Now major consumer watch dogs from Public Knowledge to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and even mainstream outlets such as Consumer Reports and even Fox News have weighed in that the ruling benefits TV audiences.

The Electronic Frontiers Foundation has been watching out for innovation and the original principles that inspired the Internet and America’s tech boom for 25 years. It has filed amicus briefs on cases involving FilmOn X across the country throughout this battle. On Monday, July 20 it published an in depth story on its site It’s a perfect primer for anyone new to the topic–a topic that will be huge as OTT and Cord Cutting are made even more viable by Judge Wu’s decision.

Explaining why this is a victory with far bigger reach than just FilmOn’s interests, EFF’s Mitch Stoltz writes, “Smaller broadcasters and smaller cable operators will likely support the decision (just as many of them supported Aereo at the Supreme Court). That’s because the ability to use Internet streaming in place of traditional cable transmissions gives smaller cable systems more technological options and may help them compete against the giants. And local broadcasters, especially those not owned by national conglomerates, stand to gain from getting their signal out to more people who might have poor TV reception where they live, or prefer to watch on Internet-connected devices.

“Naturally, major broadcasters like Fox have vowed to appeal this ruling. If history is any guide, we can expect statements from some corners of the entertainment industry about how sending free-to-air TV signals over (gasp) the Internet will destroy the television business. In fact, all it will destroy is existing cable and satellite systems’ comfortable position as the only ones who can transmit broadcast TV for a fee. That’s a positive step, and that’s why Judge Wu’s sensible decision should be upheld.”

In an interview with Advanced Television‘s Colin Mann, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge John Bergmayer said, ” It is logical that if cable-like systems should be treated as cable systems under the law, this should apply to the compulsory licence, as well as to liability issues,” he argued.“Even if this decision is not followed, it should focus attention on the disparate treatment under the law between traditional cable systems and online services.”

And James Wilcox of Consumer Reports–a magazine with some 8 million readers making decisions about their buying and view habits–wrote: “If FilmOn is ultimately successful, it could be a huge win for consumers looking for more TV service choices. The company and other emerging digital services would be able to automatically license programs from the major broadcasters, such as ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC, at a special, discounted rate—just like a cable company.”

His argument was so compelling that even Fox News picked it up, despite Fox’s knee jerk, idiotic statements from minor Fox SVP Scott Grogin. He claimed the ruling, “contrevene’s all legal precedent,” in the face of the fact that Judge Wu’s opinion cites non other than the Supreme Court’s decision against Aereo as legal precedent.


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