Set-Top Box Comments Reflect Deep Divisions

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Set top boxMore than 256,000 comments have poured into the FCC over the agency’s proposal to “unlock the box,” meaning give consumers a choice over continuing to rent the device or buy one from a different provider.


The chairman’s proposal is aimed at saving consumers money, among other things.

But many in the video and television industry are concerned about the initiative’s potential impact.

TV One is part of a coalition that says the proposal would enable box providers to pass along video content without necessarily adhering to content licensing deals.

The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council echoes those fears, as do nine other national civil rights organizations. They tell the commission “The evidence in the record overwhelmingly demonstrates that the FCC’s proposal will cost more, increase the number of set-top boxes rather than eradicating them, and spell catastrophe for diverse and independent programmers.

The coalition cites communities of color and “actual producers of diverse and independent programming” who have warned the commission that “the proposal would jeopardize their ability to establish and expand their businesses, or even to continue in business at all.”

The National Cable Television Association-backed Future of TV Coalition says it’s responsible for several thousands of comments that have arrived at the Portals in opposition to the proposal, and says “The commission should use this groundswell of opposition as an opportunity to rethink this flawed and overly complex approach.”

The FCC has said the proposal is meant to ensure consumer choice and bring down costs, since a consumer is forced to rent a set-top, paying well over the cost of the device over a multi-year period.

Consumer Group tells the agency many of the concerns can be addressed with simple changes to the proposal.


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