The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants to break Pay TV’s hold on the traditional set-top box market. And that could be good news to customers, who pay about $20 billion each year to rent the boxes.
The proposal developed by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler could face a vote at a Sept. 29 meeting–so please urging the commission to pass the plan.
Wheeler has said cable subscribers “essentially have no choices” but to pay an average of $231 a year to rent set-top boxes from cable and satellite TV providers. He proposes allowing families to avoid the rental fees by requiring cable and satellite TV providers to offer them the option of viewing their channels through services that provide streaming video over the Internet.
As expected Pay TV is pushing back. In an FCC filing, the National Cable and Telecommunications association said Wheeler’s plan would “have the effect of chilling innovation” in developing methods for consumers to access programming.
Nope, says John Bergmayer, senior counsel for the consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge: “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.”