The plan, however, calls for a FCC rule change that would permit the studios to block the Video on Demand films from being recorded on DVRs. It would also prevent HDTVs with analog outputs from displaying the movies.
The Motion Picture Association of America, the studios' trade group, has filed a petition with the FCC to enact the changes which it says are needed to prevent illegal copying.
Dean C. Garfield, the MPAA's executive vice president, this week highlighted the plan in his keynote speech before the tranFORMATions entertainment conference, according to Home Media Magazine.
Garfield told the conference that the studios are anxious to offer home viewers more entertainment options, including the ability to watch a new movie shortly after it plays in the theater. The MPAA executive added that the anti-copying restrictions would not affect the consumer.
“There is no downside for consumers,” Garfield said, according to Home Media. “They will lose nothing they don’t already have.”
However, the Consumer Electronics Association, the trade group for electronics companies, opposes the MPAA's plan, saying it gives too much control to the studios.
The National Association of Theater Owners has yet to comment on the plan, but it also could be concerned about losing customers who would wait until a new movie is offered on HD VOD. Likewise, video rental stores could lose business under the plan.
The FCC has begun accepting public comments on the MPAA's rule change request.
If the waiver is granted, the studios say they plan to offer "high-value, High-Definition digital movies to consumers for enjoyment in their homes sometime prior to release on prerecorded media such as DVD."
Cable and satellite operators -- and studio executives -- have openly speculated in recent months about offering some movies on HD VOD in advance of their DVD release, with some officials even saying some films could be offered on the same day as the theatrical release.
Presumably, the early HD VOD release would carry a larger price tag than other VOD films, which usually cost around $3.99.
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