Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced that he is circulating a set-top box proposal to the other four FCC commissioners detailing a plan that would require most pay-TV companies (cable and satellite companies, as well as telco providers like Verizon FiOS) to allow consumers to access their TV subscriptions on the device of their choice, without the need to use a rented set-top box. The approach would require pay-TV companies to make apps available to consumers on the devices that they use, and to ensure that the apps were competitive, open, and allow consumer devices to offer compelling features like universal search.
The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“With this action, the Commission could save consumers billions of dollars a year. Under the Commission's plan, consumers would be able to access their TV subscriptions on any device, and in many cases on devices they already own. In addition to saving consumers money, this action would allow consumers to access online video right alongside cable TV, in the same familiar interface. This will increase competition and innovation in the video marketplace while making it easier for programmers and creators who aren't carried by cable to get equal billing in viewers' homes.
“Since his initial proposal, the Chairman has worked assiduously to address all the legitimate concerns raised by some programmers and the pay-TV industry. The modified approach the Chairman has described today addresses the legitimate concerns raised by these parties while preserving the benefits to the public, and fulfilling the Congressional directive that requires the FCC to ensure that viewers do not need to rent set-top boxes from their providers.
“We urge all FCC commissioners to stop the monthly consumer ripoff from overpriced set-top boxes by voting to approve this order.”
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