On April 27, 2022, the Federal Communications Commission’s February 2022 Report and Order and Declaratory Ruling adopting rules proscribing or conditioning certain practices by common carriers and multichannel video programming distributors (“MVPDs”) as they serve multiple tenant environments (“MTEs”) takes partial effect. The Report and Order and Declaratory Ruling complement earlier actions by the Commission taken more than fifteen years ago prohibiting telecommunications carriers from entering into or enforcing exclusivity contracts with MTE owners in both commercial and residential MTEs prohibiting certain MVPDs from entering into or enforcing exclusivity contracts with residential MTE owners. Generally, the new rules adopted this year prohibit providers from entering into certain types of revenue sharing agreements with MTE owners, and require affected providers to disclose the existence of exclusive marketing arrangements they have with MTE owners in simple, easy-to-understand language. With the March 28, 2022, publication of the Report and Order in the Federal Register, it generally goes into effect on April 27, but there are exceptions which delay the effectiveness of some of the key provisions which providers should be aware of, pushing out compliance of parts of the new rules to September 26, 2022, and possibly even later.
A few points regarding the scope of the new rules may be helpful. The term MTE includes both commercial and residential premises, such as apartment buildings, condominium buildings, shopping malls, or cooperatives occupied by multiple tenants, but, in the case of the proscriptions described here, MVPDs are affected only in residential MTEs whereas common carriers are affected in all MTEs. MVPDs include cable operators, satellite cable programming vendors in which a cable operator has an attributable interest, or satellite broadcast programming vendors. Broadband-only providers that do not meet the definition of common carrier or MVPD are not subject to the new rules.