New rules may allow you to bypass the cable box

New rules may allow you to bypass the cable box

New rules may allow you to bypass the cable box

"Consumers don't have to rent computers from their broadband providers or DVD players from their cable companies - set-top boxes should be no different", Blumenthal said in a statement. But the plan faced stiff opposition from multichannel pay-TV distributors and from studios and networks, who said that it would undermine their carriage contracts.

The new proposal is a win for the pay-TV industry, which sharply disagreed with Wheeler's earlier, not-fully-sketched-out plan to have them share their data streams with third-party device makers like Google and TiVo.

Granted given the millions spent by the cable industry on dismantling the FCC's original proposal, there's certainly nothing stopping the same scenario from playing out again over this updated plan.

The FCC is scheduled to vote on Wheeler's plan on September 29.

Wheeler has called for more competition in pay-TV navigation, bemoaning the average $231-per-year that consumers pap in rental fees. The Chairman's new proposal also violates the Communications Act and exceeds the FCC's authority. It requires that the app be compatible across a variety of devices, including tablets, smartphones, gaming systems, streaming devices, or smart TVs.

Another provision of the proposal would require that consumers be able to search programming options in one place, whether it be the app or an over-the-top service like Netflix. "Instead, pay-TV providers will be required to provide apps - free of charge - that consumers can download to the device of their choosing to access all the programming and features they already paid for".

"Action on this issue is a long time coming, but that time has arrived", Wheeler told an audience at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association's annual convention in Las Vegas. The FCC could change the terms of agreements if it thinks they are damaging to competition.

But Wheeler has held that protecting consumers and encouraging competition take precedence over industry interests.

FCC officials say that almost all pay-TV subscribers lease boxes from their pay-TV providers.

They say customer info, anonymized or not, belongs to the customers, and ISPs have failed to show how those customers would benefit from the carveout.

Operators maintain control over the user experience via the apps they provide. Large providers will have two years to comply, medium-sized providers will have an addition two years, and smaller operators - with fewer than 400,000 subscribers - will not have to comply.

Also quick on the draw to respond to the new proposal was Public Knowledge.

Wheeler said the commission's proposal is "supported by the nation's leading wireless carriers, save one". "He claims that his new proposal builds on the marketplace success of apps, but in reality, it would stop the apps revolution dead in its tracks by imposing an overly complicated government licensing regime and heavy-handed regulation in a fast-moving technological space".

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