Once again, Big Media shows that it doesn’t want to share its profits with anyone else. Today’s action by the MPAA representing the major movie studios undercuts the entire process of theatrical release. It would put the struggling theater chains virtually out of business.

Washington, D.C. – In a filing today with the Federal Communications Commission, the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) reinforced the benefits of allowing studios the option of sending movies fresh from the box office to tens of millions of American households.

“Many of us love movies, but we just can’t make it 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 home,”  MPAA Chairman and CEO Dan Glickman said.  “Having the added option to enjoy movies in a more timely fashion at home would be a liberating new choice.”

In its filing, which was in response to letters of opposition filed by the group Public Knowledge, the MPAA said: “grant of the waiver would for the first time allow millions of consumers to view high-value, high-definition theatrical films during an early release window that is not available today.  MPAA has explained that release of this high-value content as part of an earlier window, especially with respect to movies released for home viewing close to or even during their initial theatrical run, necessarily requires the highest level of protection possible through use of SOC.”

SOC, or selectable output control technology, would allow televisions with digitally secure interfaces to receive first-run, high-definition content from a cable or satellite provider.  Using SOC protects content because it essentially disables non-secure, analog outputs to avoid illegal circumvention and distribution of copyrighted material.  These outputs would be disabled ONLY with respect to the proposed new content, and this technology would NOT have any impact whatsoever on the ability of existing devices to receive all of the content that they get today.  Consumers will continue to have access to everything they have today, including DVDs, Netflix, etc.

The MPAA filing noted: “By Public Knowledge’s odd reckoning, however, no consumer-oriented technological breakthrough ever could be introduced to American homes unless and until every single American home had access to the same opportunity at the same moment in time.  That is a recipe for holding every innovation hostage until the last consumer adopts a new technology.

“Under Public Knowledge’s approach, the Commission would have taken decades to permit television stations to broadcast in color, since millions of American homes already had purchased black-and-white sets when color broadcasts were introduced in the 1950s.   Indeed, whenever innovative technologies bring consumers new and better opportunities to media content, there is always a lag between when early adopters take advantage of these opportunities and when they become ubiquitous.”

Glickman added:  “I, like most movie-goers believe the best way to enjoy a movie is to go to the theater with friends and share a communal laugh or adventure together.  But I also believe there is ample room for additional choices that satisfy consumer demand to enjoy movies in diverse new ways.  If allowed by the FCC, I believe this new choice will be just one of many exciting innovations to come that benefit consumers and sustain the future of this unique creative medium.”

Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.