Asked by Rep.
Wheeler made his remarks during a House Energy & Commerce Committee's subcommittee on communications and technology oversight hearing on the FCC.
Programmers argue that if they are blocking subscribers from getting their channel because of a contractual fight with their cable/broadband provider, it only makes sense to also make sure there is no end-around to that content via the Internet.
The practice of blocking consumers from websites if their cable/broadband provider is in a distribution fight is believed to have started a few years ago when
Last summer, when
"Cable One has chosen to no longer carry Viacom programming and, as a result, it is no longer available to Cable One customers in any form," A Viacom spokesman said.
Where the issue gets complicated is when a programmer is blocking access to content that anyone can get for free from their website regardless of whether they have a subscription to a pay-TV provider.
Viacom noted that it isn't shutting down its entire site to Cable One customers. It just isn't making full episodes of shows available to them since the cable and broadband company currently has no contract to carry the channels.
One of the unintended consequences of this strategy, though, is that such blocking can also prevent a consumer who has a different pay-TV provider from getting access to a network's website merely because they have the wrong broadband provider.