It certainly didn’t take long for Republicans in Congress to suggest that new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai slap down the former chairman’s proposal to “Unlock the Box,” which would basically require TV providers to make their programming available through third-party devices instead of just cable boxes.
In a Wednesday letter to Pai, the Committee on Energy and Commerce gets right to the point: “We are writing to ask that you close the docket on the set-top box proceeding … and signal clearly to consumers, content producers, consumer electronics manufacturers, and video programming distributors that the Commission’s consideration of its set-top box proposal is at an end.” The full text of the letter is here.
Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have never been fans of the proposed rulemaking championed by former FCC Chair Tom Wheeler. Getting to the crux of their argument, which is familiar to anyone who’s been following this issue, the letter states: “Cable, satellite, and over-the-top video services are innovating, bringing their services to apps on new platforms, and responding to consumer demand. We should be fostering that kind of consumer-focused innovation, not mandating a ‘one-sizes-fits-all ‘innovation.’”
A vote was scheduled last year, but didn’t move forward after it looked like the Wheeler set-top plan didn’t have the necessary votes. His fellow Democrat FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel (now a former commissioner) famously indicated a dissent.
Pai has previously expressed his frustrations with the original “Unlock the Box” proposal.
“It would divert the industry’s energies away from app development and toward the long-term slog of complying with the Commission’s new regulatory scheme for unwanted hardware,” he said in statement last year. “It actually proposes imposing a number of regulations that would discourage the development and deployment of MVPD apps. That’s not what the American people want. I’m confident that most consumers would rather eliminate the set-top box altogether than embrace a complex regulatory scheme that will require them to have another box in their home and won’t take effect for at least three years.”
Pai’s statement from last February is here.
Filed Under: Industry regulations