MPAA Mends Fences With Sony, Fox After Net Neutrality Blow-Up

New statement to FCC meant to quietly placate at least two studio chiefs

The new net neutrality statement by the Motion Picture Association of America is quietly meant to band-aid over a blow-up between at least two member companies and the industry lobby led by Dan Glickman.

That blow-up is the result of a statement put out last October, in which the MPAA told the FCC that the movie industry is not a proponent "of government regulation of the internet.” It went on to explain that the industry is focused on protecting intellectual property as the agency redefines its policy on the question of who controls the internet.

One problem: That statement did not represent the views of all the moguls — and at least two studio chiefs, from Fox and Sony, hit the roof.

Fox’s Jim Gianopulos and Sony’s Michael Lynton were particuarly livid, according to those who recounted this internal dissension, and demanded an apology — and got one over the reported “fumble.”

What happened, apparently, is that the Washington representatives of the studios reviewed the statement before it was put out, but the heads of the studios who actually lead the MPAA never did.

Bad move. The statement communicated to the FCC — led by someone considered to be a friend to the industry, Julius Genachowski (former deputy to IAC’s Barry Diller) — that the agency's regulation of the internet was not desired.

Some of the studios – Warner, Disney – may feel this way. But the other studio chiefs feel that they need the FCC as an ally to define a new policy that will BOTH maintain the freedom of the Internet, but also protect their intellectual property.

And the FCC is now on the bubble, awaiting a judicial ruling on whether the agency’s attempt to issue new regulations is unconstitutional.

If that ruling is issued against the FCC, the entire net neutrality issue gets thrown into disarray, and will likely end up the Supreme Court. Instead, the movie studios need protection and clarity now.

The MPAA declined to comment on this conflict, saying, “We don’t comment on the give-and-take needed to reach consensus among our member companies.” Glickman also declined to comment.

Meanwhile, I hear a search firm is working to identify candidates to replace him.

Said one of the moguls about what they’re looking for: “We need a killer.”

Here's the full statement, with the troublesome line in bold: 

“The American motion picture and television production industry applauds the decision of the FCC to recognize the critical role of legitimate content in the continuing development of the Internet.  Today’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) makes clear that reasonable network management includes the ability to stop unlawful distribution of content online.  Although we are not proponents of government regulation of the internet, by highlighting the importance of intellectual property in this way, the Commission signaled that American creativity and ingenuity, and millions of related jobs, will be preserved.  We look forward to reviewing the NPRM in its entirety and working with the Chairman and the Commission to craft policies that will lead to pervasive broadband adoption, greater consumer choice, and preservation of American intellectual property online.”