AT&T to Start Capping Unlimited HBO Max Data Use

AT&T quietly announced it would begin capping data use for its wireless subscribers — a move that would affect some HBO Max subs from unlimited streaming. The telecom cited recent legislative action California supporting statewide net neutrality for the decision.

“California has enacted a ‘net neutrality’ law banning ‘sponsored data’ services that allowed companies to pay for, or ‘sponsor,’ the data usage of their customers who are also AT&T wireless customers,” the company wrote in a blog post. “Unfortunately, under the California law we are now prohibited from providing certain data features to consumers free of charge.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

After President Trump’s FCC rescinded a federal net neutrality law that treated the Internet as a utility prohibiting ISPs from charging for higher bandwidth and streaming speeds, California, among other states, enacted its own net neutrality law. A federal judge last month upheld the move.

Prior to California’s law, AT&T said sponsored data subscribers were able to browse stream apps (i.e. HBO Max) from devices without using their monthly data allowance. The telecom said video providers utilized sponsored data enabling subscribers to stream movies and TV shows over their wireless service without it counting against their wireless data plan.

“Since it began, our sponsored data service, and competing offers from other wireless providers, have delivered significant benefits and saved consumers money,” AT&T wrote. “Consumers also have enjoyed an explosion of video streaming services.”

AT&T said the Internet does not recognize state borders, and thus the new law not only ends its ability to offer California customers free data services, but also similarly impacts customers nationwide.

AT&T is calling Congress to adopt federal legislation that would provide “clear, consistent and permanent” net neutrality rules for everyone to follow.

“A state-by-state approach to ‘net neutrality’ is unworkable,” wrote the telecom. “A patchwork of state regulations, many of them overly restrictive, creates roadblocks to creative and pro-consumer solutions. We have long been committed to the principles of an open internet. We deliver the content and services our customers want because it’s what they demand, not because it’s mandated by regulation.”

California Movie Theaters Could Re-Open by June 12

New California COVID-19 guidelines released June 8 suggest select industries in the state, including movie theaters, could begin accommodating consumers as early as June 12, depending on local county restrictions.

About 51 of the state’s 58 counties have reportedly applied for accelerated business re-openings — with the exception of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara in the Bay Area. Imperial County in eastern San Diego is the lone holdout in Southern California, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Businesses affected by the new re-opening guidelines include bowling alleys, miniature golf, batting cages, arcades, and exhibitors such as AMC Theatres, Regal Cinema and Cinemark, among others. The guidelines say theaters may re-open provided they adhere to applicable state and local guidance on social distancing.

Specifically, cineplexes must limit attendance to 25% of theater capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower, per screening. The California Department of Public Health, in consultation with county Departments of Public Health, said it would review and assess the impact of these imposed limits on public health and provide further direction as part of a phased-in restoration of leisure activities.

Follow us on Instagram

All commercial movie screens statewide have been shuttered and staff furloughed or laid off since mid-March when the coronavirus pandemic began to spread throughout the country with significant numbers of infections.

Wedbush Securities media analyst Michael Pachter contends exhibitor revenue in the current fiscal quarter is down about 98% since the previous-year period. Pachter believes consumers will be reluctant to go to the movies until a vaccine is on the market.

“People may be eager to visit the theaters once they feel safe doing so, but we think it is unlikely crowds will return to any semblance of normal before a vaccine is widely distributed, particularly in urban and suburban markets,” Pachter wrote in a recent note.

To date, there have been more than 133,000 COVID-19 documented cases in California, and more than 4,600 deaths, according to state records.

In addition to heightened cleaning and personal hygiene awareness for exhibitor employees, California mandates that all moviegoers be screened for virus symptoms upon arrival, asked to use hand sanitizer, and to bring and wear a face covering when not eating or drinking.

Ted Sarandos, Bob Iger Among Executives on California Gov.’s Task Force Seeking $1 Trillion in Congressional Virus Relief for Local Governments

Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos and Disney executive chairman Bob Iger have joined a group of more than 90 California business leaders calling on Congress to approve $1 trillion in coronavirus fiscal relief for all states and local governments.

Sarandos and Iger are members of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Task Force on Business & Jobs Recovery organized to deal with the economic, environmental and social fallout from the pandemic.

In a May 15 letter to House and Senate leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the task force said COVID-19 has “fundamentally” changed how business and organizations operate and are managed.

“The worst of the economic impact is likely still to come,” read the letter.

The group said successful re-opening of state and local economies relies on building confidence among consumers that it is safe to shop and greater certainty for workers that the services they rely on to do their jobs will remain in place.

“Without that, we will be a re-opened economy in name only,” they wrote.

The group said it stands with business leaders throughout the nation, from both sides of the aisle, who said the funds would protect core government services like public health, public safety, public education and helping people get back to work.

“This funding will help our states and cities — and America’s economy — come out of this crisis stronger and more resilient,” they wrote.

The letter came on the day the Democrat-controlled House approved a $3 trillion relief bill, which included $1 trillion in states aid. The Republican-controlled Senate is not expected to pass the bill.