The Future of TV Coalition called out some of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s remarks yesterday as a “gaffe” and a “whopper” as related to the Commission’s “unlock the box” proposal.
Here is the part of Wheeler’s statement the group is referring to, which it reports was given during a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee: “The interesting thing is that there are today the equivalent of competitive set-top boxes available in the market — for instance, Google Chrome[cast]. A lot of things we hear about how this is Google’s big plan to take over cable TV – malarkey.
“Google Chrome[cast], which attaches into the port in your TV [and] allows you to pull things off of the web, does not violate copyright, does not overlay commercials, does not do all of the horrible things everybody says a set-top box like that would do.”
The Future of TV Coalition responded: “If the classic Washington definition of a ‘gaffe’ is to accidentally tell the truth, Chairman Wheeler’s comments at today’s hearing are a whopper. He admitted, plainly and clearly, that app-powered devices like Chromecast and Roku offer consumers an alternative to traditional set-top boxes and are readily available in the marketplace.”
“Why is the Chairman so desperate to solve a problem that he admits does not exist?” the coalition asks.
The Future of TV states that Chairman Wheeler correctly points out that apps-driven innovation is already allowing consumers to watch video on a wide range of devices — without hurting small and independent programmers, invading privacy or undermining copyright protections.
“Why then is he proposing a sweeping mandate that explicitly rejects this apps approach and strips TV providers of the technical and contractual tools they currently use to ensure these protections remain in place?” it concludes.
The Consumer Video Choice Coalition had kinder words for the FCC chair’s remarks at the House E&C Committee hearing.
“It may only be spring training, but Chairman Wheeler was hitting set-top box questions out of the park today,” the CVCC says in a statement. “On copyright, Tom Wheeler set the record straight. The unlock the box proposal specifically protects and defends copyright for new video devices in the same manner copyright is protected across tens of thousands of other devices such as phones, tablets and laptops.”
The CVCC also reports it agrees with Chairman Wheeler’s observation that only a small handful of minority channels are currently on cable’s most expensive tier. “Meanwhile, hundreds of new minority programmers have been denied access by cable and pay TV companies. New streaming access provides new hope for independent programmers and content creators seeking to bring fresh storytelling to a wider audience in homes across America,” the CVCC statement concludes.
Filed Under: Industry regulations