You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Key House Democrat Doubts FCC Set-Top Box Proposal ‘Will Work’

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, is expressing doubts about the FCC’s latest set-top box proposal, which would require cable operators to offer apps of their channel feeds.

“As I’ve said before, consumers do not like set-top boxes — they are clunky, outdated, and needlessly expensive,” he said in a statement on Monday. “While I commend Chairman Wheeler for working to solve this difficult issue, I’m concerned that this latest proposal will not work, particularly when it comes to licensing. Ultimately, I’m skeptical that the revised plan will benefit consumers.”

Last week, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler unveiled a proposal that would require that cable operators offer free apps that would enable subscribers to forgo the rental of set-top boxes. A licensing body, made up of representatives the cable and satellite business and content providers, would license the app to device makers, but the FCC would have oversight.

A vote is scheduled on the proposal on Sept. 29.

A spokeswoman for Wheeler said in a statement, “We continue to have productive conversations with all stakeholders about Chairman Wheeler’s apps-based proposal to ensure consumers have the options they deserve – and that Congress mandated – to access the programming they already pay for.”

Multichannel distributors, known as MVPDs, actually proposed an app-based approach in June. It was a compromise to an earlier FCC proposal that would have required them to supply program fees to device manufacturers so consumers could buy their own set-top boxes.

But MVPDs are objecting to the new proposal, including requirements that they make app software available on all widely deployed platforms. The MVPDs wanted to limit app development to HTML5, but the FCC wants no specific standards. “They may choose to develop apps themselves or provide the necessary code to a third-party developer to develop an app on behalf of the pay-TV provider,” the FCC said in a fact-sheet outlining the proposal.

Programmers, including studios and cable networks, are raising objections over plans for the licensing body. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who may be the swing vote on the proposal, participated in a conference call with programming representatives on Thursday. According to an ex-parte filing, the programmers told her that “any arrangement in which they are required to allow their content to be distributed on terms or conditions to which programmers would not agree would be tantamount to a compulsory copyright license.”

But the FCC spokeswoman said that programmers “would have a seat at the table” in licensing, and the FCC “would have limited oversight to ensure industry doesn’t act anti-competitively and limit consumer choice. In addition, the proposal prohibits altering terms of contracts between programmers and pay-TV providers.”

Wheeler says his proposal is designed to boost competition in TV navigation devices, citing the average $231-per-year that consumers pay to rent their cable boxes.

The issue is expected to come up on Thursday when the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee holds an oversight hearing with all five commissioners.

More Biz

  • Streaming Placeholder

    TikTok Owner Preparing Streaming Service to Rival Spotify (Report)

    ByteDance, the Beijing-based owner of the TikTok video app, is developing a paid streaming music service aimed at the same emerging markets that Spotify and Apple are seeking to explore, according to a report in Bloomberg. The app could be introduced as early as autumn, according to the report, which adds that the company has [...]

  • Stranger Things

    Coca-Cola Will Revive New Coke in Alliance With Netflix, 'Stranger Things'

    A rush of TV watchers to streaming video has prompted Coca-Cola to test an interesting pour. Coca-Cola will bring New Coke back to market for a brief time, all part of a partnership with Netflix, which has featured Coke in its cult-favorite series “Stranger Things.” The third season of the series, set in 1985, will [...]

  • Doug Davis and Jodie ShihadehVariety Power

    Jodie Shihadeh Named Partner at The Davis Firm

    Jodie Shihadeh has been named Partner at The Davis Firm, PLLC. She joined the firm in 2011 and rose from associate to Managing Attorney and now partner. She graduated from Boston College and received her law degree from Fordham University School of Law in 2011. While still in law school she interned in the Business [...]

  • Peak TV Saturation TV Placeholder

    Nickelodeon Alum Keith Dawkins Sets Kidvid Partnership With Believe Entertainment Group

    Former Nickelodeon executive Keith Dawkins has partnered with Believe Entertainment Group to develop children’s programming. Dawkins will partner with Believe under his newly formed Rock Hill Media Ventures, which aims to advise companies in media, entertainment and sports on working with diverse and emerging talent. Dawkins previously spent 17 years at Viacom, most of which [...]

  • CBS Studios Exterior

    CBS Credit Union Manager Pleads Guilty to $40 Million Fraud

    The manager of a credit union for CBS employees pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court on Monday to a $40 million embezzlement scheme. Edward Rostohar, 62, was arrested in March after the scheme began to unravel. According to prosecutors, he admitted to stealing money from the bank for the last 20 years. Rostohar is [...]

  • Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon - The

    CAA's Packaging Fee Becomes Flashpoint in 'Walking Dead' Litigation

    UPDATED with new statement and response filing The issue that is at the heart of the WGA’s present standoff with talent agencies has flared up as a source of tension in the litigation between AMC Networks and Frank Darabont and CAA over profit participation on “The Walking Dead.” Attorneys for Darabont and CAA called AMC’s [...]

  • Sony Music to Deliver ‘Real Time’

    Sony Music to Deliver ‘Real Time’ Data, Royalty Payments to Artists

    Sony Music today announced two new payment features for its artists — “Real Time Royalties” and “Cash Out” — through its artist portal beginning this fall. 

A memo sent to artists Monday morning and obtained by Variety says  the initiatives will “allow our artists and royalty participants to view and withdraw earnings faster than ever [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content